Google-DoubleClick Deal Passes FTC Hurdle. Now Comes the Hard Part: Europe

As we noted earlier, the FTC has indeed cleared Google’s $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick. Notably, the FTC required no conditions for clearing the transaction, which is a big win for Google. It won’t have to sell off any businesses or change any of its current business practices. Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond gives a rundown of the reasoning behind the FTC’s decision:

Third party ad serving markets are highly competitive. [No argument there].

Privacy not a part of the merger review. [You lucked out, boys].

Data combination wouldn’t pose problems. [That means Google won’t be hobbled by any separate-but-equal clauses keeping Google and DoubleClick data apart, which would have probably squirreled the deal].

Advertisers and publishers aren’t concerned. [Well, at least not enough to complain publicly about it to the FTC].

Now that the U.S. is cleared, Google still has its toughest hurdle ahead. The European Commission won’t bow out so easily. It could very well delay a decision until April. (Those Old World regulators like to take things at an Old World pace). In the meantime, Microsoft will keep trying to steal away more business from DoubleClick, as it did yesterday with its Viacom deal. Oh, and it will be spending a lot of time lobbying its good friends at the EC as well. The longer the delay, the more Microsoft can use that time to try to catch up. But come April, DoubleGoog will start to punch back.