EU extends probe on Google-DoubleClick deal

European Union antitrust regulators launched an in-depth probe into Google's $3.1 billion bid for online ad broker DoubleClick, saying an initial investigation showed the deal would raise competition concerns, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report  said the EU's executive Commission set an April 2 deadline by which to reach a final decision on the deal, which has raised concerns by Google rivals Microsoft and Yahoo, both of which fear it will give the internet search leader too much power in online advertising.

The European Commission described Google and DoubleClick as 'the leading providers' of online advertising space and services as well as ad-serving technology, and said its extended probe would examine whether the deal 'could lead to anticompetitive restrictions for competitors operating in these markets and thus harm consumers,' the report said.

The report said DoubleClick helps its customers place and track online advertising, including search ads, which Google has turned into an extremely lucrative business.

The EU said a preliminary probe, launched after Google notified the EU of its bid for New York-based DoubleClick in September, found the proposed acquisition 'would raise competition concerns.'

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the company was 'obviously disappointed' by the EU decision to extend the review.

Yahoo Europe's managing director Toby Coppel welcomed the EU investigation, saying it 'was needed,' the Associated Press report said.