The last barrier to Google acquiring DoubleClick may be about to fall. Bloomberg and others are reporting that antitrust officials in the European Union “plan to rule that the purchase may proceed without changes” as early as March 11 (about a year after the $3.1 billion deal was first announced). The FTC approved the acquisition here in the U.S. last December, but if there was going to be a stumbling block everyone expected it to be at the EU. If Bloomberg is correct, that stumbling block is about to be removed.
Microsoft won’t be too happy about that. It was lobbying heavily against the deal, both in the U.S. and in Europe. Meanwhile, Redmond has been building its own online advertising business through its aQuantive acquisition. You’ve got to wonder whether Microsoft’s ongoing attempt to buy Yahoo helped convince the EU that online advertising is an extremely competitive industry after all that doesn’t need to be regulated.