FTC Looking at Everyone’s Deals Now

The WSJ (sub req’d) is reporting on the Federal Trade Commission’s examination of Microsoft’s intended acqusition of aQuantive and Yahoo!’s deal with RightMedia:

The FTC is conducting antitrust reviews of Microsoft Corp.’s $6 billion bid for aQuantive Inc. and Yahoo Inc.’s $680 million deal for the 80% of closely held ad-exchange operator Right Media Inc. it didn’t already own, lawyers close to these deals said. The FTC already is investigating Google Inc.’s $3.1 billion bid for DoubleClick Inc.

Such reviews are required under the Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust act, which seeks to ensure that mergers don’t lessen competition or lead to higher prices for consumers. The FTC and Justice Department share authority for such reviews. The DoubleClick deal is getting a formal investigation by the FTC, including extensive document requests and interviews and is likely to take several months to complete.

Don’t all these deals “cancel each other out” in terms of anti-trust considerations? Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith would argue “no.”

It’s very unlikely that any of the deals will be thwarted by regulators, but I suppose it’s possible that Google-DoubleClick is the one with the highest risk in regard. It’s unlikely but we’ll see. If that were to be the case it would be a blow to Google’s efforts to expand further into display and brand advertising but might accelerate the potential introduction of display advertising into Google.com results.

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