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Mergers: Commission clears Microsoft's proposed acquisition of the Yahoo search business

European Commission - IP/10/167   18/02/2010

Other available languages: FR DE

IP/10/167

Brussels, 18 th February 2010

Mergers: Commission clears Microsoft's proposed acquisition of the Yahoo search business

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the internet search and search advertising businesses of Yahoo! Inc. by Microsoft. The Commission concluded that the concentration would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

Microsoft is active in the design, development and supply of computer software and the supply of related services on a worldwide basis.

The Yahoo search business subject to the transaction encompasses the internet search and the online search advertising businesses of Yahoo, including its online search advertising platform Panama.

Pursuant to the agreements concluded by Microsoft and Yahoo, Microsoft will acquire a 10-year exclusive license to Yahoo's search technologies. Microsoft will also hire Yahoo internet search and search advertising staff. Microsoft will become the exclusive internet search and search advertising provider used by Yahoo. In exchange, Microsoft will retain 12% of the search revenues generated on Yahoo’s and its partners' websites during the first five years of the agreement, paying 88% to Yahoo as a traffic acquisition cost.

In the EEA, Microsoft's and Yahoo's activities in internet search and online search advertising are very limited with combined market shares generally below 10%. Google, by contrast, generally enjoys market shares above 90%.

According to Microsoft, acquiring the Yahoo search business and thus increasing its scale in search advertising will enable it to become a more credible alternative to Google and provide greater value to advertisers. The Commission's first phase market investigation has indicated that scale is an important element to be an effective competitor in search advertising.

The Commission also examined the potential impact of the merger on the different market players, namely internet search users, advertisers, online publishers and distributors of search technology. The Commission's first phase market investigation has shown that not only market participants do not expect the transaction to have any negative effects on competition or on their business but they also expect it to increase competition in internet search and search advertising by allowing Microsoft to become a stronger competitor to Google.

The operation was notified to the Commission for regulatory clearance on 15 January 2010.

More information on the case is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/mergers/cases/index/m114.html#m_5727


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