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EUROPEAN COMPETITION CHIEF BREAKS SILENCE OVER GOOGLE GRIPES

09/08/2010

By Tim Bradshaw, Nikki Tait in London, in Brussels

The prospect of Google facing a European inquiry into allegations of anti-competitive behaviour appeared to increase when the EU's top competition official broke his silence to signal how seriously he took the claims.

Warning about the risks of online market dominance, Joaquín Almunia said yesterday that he would look closely at complaints from three companies, including Microsoft, that the search group had unfairly demoted rivals in its rankings.

"The work is at an early stage, but given the importance of search to a competitive online marketplace, I am looking at the allegations very carefully," he told a conference organised by University College London.

The fact that the European Union commissioner has commented on the case for the first time since the complaints were filed five months ago will do nothing to dampen growing speculation in Brussels' legal circles that the Commission is likely to open a formal probe into the search business in the next few months

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