Microsoft and AT&T, concerned that Google's $3.1 billion acquisition of online ad network DoubleClick will give it a stranglehold on the Internet advertising market, are urging regulators to investigate the deal for antitrust violations. The deal, announced on April 13, will position Google as the sole broker of Internet advertising, according to a statement released by AT&T. Microsoft, which has itself been a regular target of antitrust allegations, claims that the threat implied by the deal to competition for online ads -- as well as the lack of clarity about the amount of personal information Google will now be able to collect -- requires "close review and scrutiny." The DoubleClick purchase pulls Google far ahead of the field in the $28.8 billion global online ad market and gives it the capability to provide advertisers with graphical display ads as well as text ads. Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, claims the acquisition will give Google an 80% share of the ad market displayed on third-party sites. The purchase, which some analysts believe was too expensive, will likely feed speculation that Seattle-based online ad company aQuantive Inc. is an acquisition target. aQuantive's shares gained 12% to $32.01 yesterday.
Sources: MarketWatch, Bloomberg, Seattle PI
Commentary: DoubleClick Acquisition: Google Heads Microsoft Off At the Pass • Despite Google's DoubleClick Acquisition, Microsoft May Be In the Lead • Google-DoubleClick Deal Makes aQuantive More Attractive
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), AT&T (T), Google Inc. (GOOG). ETFs: iShares Goldman Sachs Technology (IGM), iShares Goldman Sachs Software (IGV), First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index (FDN), First Trust IPOX-100 Index (FPX)
Conference call transcripts: Microsoft F2Q07 (Qtr End 12/31/06), Google Q4 2006
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