US and EU give go-ahead to Google Motorola acquisition

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Approval means only China stands in the way of the deal being completed, but US and EU say they will watch Google closely

US and European regulators have given a cautious go-ahead to Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

But regulators in both countries said they would keep an eye on Google to ensure that it did not behave in an anti-competitive manner, especially when it came to the use of patents acquired in the deal.

China must also ratify the acquisition before it can be completed.

The £10 billion deal was originally agreed last August.

The European Commission vice president in charge of competition policy Joaquin Almunia said: “We have approved the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google because, upon careful examination, this transaction does not itself raise competition issues.”

“Of course, the Commission will continue to keep a close eye on the behaviour of all market players in the sector, particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents.”

The commission said that it had considered whether the acquisition would affect Google’s approach to letting other manufacturers use Android, but found that this was unlikely because the the operating system helped increase the usage of Google’s other services which generate revenue for the company.

As well as giving its approval to the Google Motorola deal, the US Justice Department also gave the go ahead to two other deals: the acquisition of Nortel’s patent portfolio by a consortium led by  Apple, Microsoft, and Research in Motion and Apple’s bid to acquire a tranche of Novell patents.

The department issues a statement saying: “After a thorough review of the proposed transactions, the Antitrust Division has determined that each acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition and has closed these three investigations.”

Google’s defeat in a bidding war for Nortel’s patents led to its decision to acquire Motorola, which has a portfolio of more than 17,000 patents, and another 7,000 patent applications pending.

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