Get 40% Off
⚠ Earnings Alert! Which stocks are poised to surge?
See the stocks on our ProPicks radar. These strategies gained 19.7% year-to-date.
Unlock full list

Axel Springer unit, others say Google still playing unfairly, want EU to act

Published 11/28/2019, 08:18 AM
Updated 11/28/2019, 08:18 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Axel Springer's (DE:SPRGn) price-comparison shopping service Idealo and 40 other European peers have accused Alphabet Inc's Google (O:GOOGL) of tilting the playing field in its favor and urged EU antitrust regulators to enforce a ruling against the company.

The joint call by the group ratchets up pressure on European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to take further action against Google, the world's most popular internet search engine, two years after she ordered it to stop favoring its own price comparison shopping service (CSS).

The companies, the largest group to take a stand against Google to date, in a joint letter to Vestager seen by Reuters on Thursday said that the U.S. web giant had yet to comply with the 2017 order. Google was also fined 2.4 billion euros ($2.65 billion) at the time.

The signatories to the letter are from 21 EU countries and include Idealo, Europe's second largest price comparison shopping service, Polish No. 1 Ceneo, Britain's Kelkoo, and Foundem and Heureka in the Czech Republic.

"We are approaching you (Vestager) because companies like ours are endangered by Google, which is artfully avoiding compliance with the law," the companies wrote.

They said Google's proposal to allow competitors to bid for advertising space at the top of a search page had not boosted traffic to their sites.

"As a result, more and more CSS' have been or will be forced by Google to exit the market."

Google said it was seeing positive results from its "shopping remedies" and more merchants were gaining traffic.

"Over 28,000 merchants in Europe are currently placing shopping ads through these third-party Comparison Shopping Services, leading to more choice for merchants and consumers," Google said.

The European Commission confirmed receipt of the letter, which did not mention any specific solutions sought by the group, and said it was monitoring the situation.

Some 600 companies now take part in auctions for search page advertising space, Google senior executive Oliver Bethell told an Informa conference earlier this week, saying it proved the auctions had boosted competition.

Thomas Hoppner, a lawyer for Idealo said most of the signatories were voicing their frustrations for the first time.

"The letter demonstrates a united front of genuine comparison shopping services against Google's attempt to present measures as a "compliance mechanism"," he said.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London

Earlier this month, Vestager voiced concerns about the lack of significant traffic to Google's competitors, rowing back on previous comments about the positive impact of the auctions.

Latest comments

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.