updated 01:25 pm EST, Fri February 10, 2012
EU seen as likely to approve Google buy as US
Two insiders claimed Friday that the European Commission was likely to approve Google's acquisition of Motorola. In sync with talk of a likely US approval, Reuters understood that the EU regulatory body would greenlight the deal in "unconditional" form. The EC had reportedly decided that the takeover wouldn't be anti-competitive.
A small chance was left open that an investigation might come instead, but it wasn't deemed probable.
The official ruling is due on February 13 and would come roughly at the same time as the US Department of Justice decision. Google and Motorola are both waiting on approvals in multiple other countries, including China, Israel, and Taiwan.
Unconditional approval would be somewhat unexpected given existing concerns. Both the EU and US are looking into antitrust concerns separate from the merger. Likewise, in spite of promsies that Google would keep Motorola at a distance to be fair to Android partners, concerns exist that it's taking steps to directly control Motorola and would favor its own hardware over HTC, Samsung, and others.
Google's patent licensing may also raise concerns. It has claimed fairness in patent licensing, but it has so far said it would maintain Motorola's demand that Apple pay 2.25 percent royalties on the total price of an iPhone or 3G iPad, a rate that's widely considered excessive. The search firm had bought Motorola primarily for patents, but hasn't undertaken much public reassurance that it won't launch offensives.