BRUSSELS The European Commission has taken the
unusual step of sending questionnaires to Google customers
before the company officially seeks permission to take over a
rival, two business sources familiar with the situation said on
Google is expected to file with the European Union's top
antitrust regulator for the $3.1 billion (1.53 billion pounds)
purchase of U.S. Web advertising supplier DoubleClick by
mid-September, the sources said.
"We believe they have taken this step because the
Commission believes this will be an unusually complex and
contentious merger," one of the sources said.
Once Google files -- as it has in the United States before
the Federal Trade Commission -- the European Commission will
evaluate the deal to determine whether it is anti-competitive.
The European Commission often sends questionnaires to
competitors and customers once a deal is formally filed, but it
is far more unusual to provide one early.
A Commission spokesman declined to comment.
In Washington, the Federal Trade Commission has already
requested additional information about the deal.
Rivals have asked authorities to look closely at the
proposed buy, raising concerns that Google could gain too much
control over online advertising.