Warren Buffett reversed plans to buy a $1.3 billion pipeline to avoid antitrust scrutiny – and its shows how the rich and powerful see Washington’s growing regulatory threat

warren buffett
Warren Buffett in 2019.

  • Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway abandoned plans to buy a $1.3 billion natural gas pipeline.
  • Buffett’s energy company operates in states where the pipeline runs, which seller said the FTC could have used to block the deal.
  • The abandoned purchase signals that Buffett sees a growing federal regulatory threat.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Washington’s beefing up its antitrust regulatory muscle, and billionaire investor Warren Buffet is seemingly well aware of it.

The Berkshire Hathaway owner’s energy subsidiary said Monday it’s throwing out plans to buy a $1.3 billion natural gas pipeline that operates in 16 states, including Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Those are territories where his subsidiary’s energy company also runs, as CNN noted.

Berkshire Hathaway owning two pipelines that serve customers in the same states could have raised eyebrows from the Federal Trade Commission, which the company and the pipeline’s seller acknowledged in a Monday press release.

“The decision is a result of ongoing uncertainty associated with achieving clearance from the Federal Trade Commission under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976,” Dominion, which was set to sell its Questar Pipelines to the company, said.

Dominion said it already sold gas transmission and storage assets to Berkshire in November, a deal that won’t be affected by the pipeline purchase termination and that was originally worth $4 billion, plus $5.7 billion that Berkshire Hathaway agreed to take on in debt.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Dominion declined to comment on this story.

Both Buffett and Dominion backing away from the pipeline deal shows that even the rich and powerful understand the regulatory threat currently posed by the US government – specifically from the FTC.

The agency is now helmed by Lina Khan, a big tech critic whose extensive antitrust law background has reshaped modern-day antitrust discussion. Khan, a Democrat, is joined by two other Democratic commissioners and two Republicans.

Apart from the FTC’s new make-up, lawmakers are also zeroing in on reshaping antitrust regulation in the US. Congress unveiled a package of five bills in June that are intended to keep big tech companies from becoming too large and powerful.

And just last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to combat corporate consolidation, or mergers, in the US economy, a move the administration said would increase healthy competition.

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Biden will sign an executive order cracking down on Big Tech firms buying up smaller companies and hoarding user data

President Biden
President Biden speaks to reporters on July 8

  • Joe Biden will sign a sweeping executive order on Friday, which includes a crackdown on Big Tech.
  • Biden’s order will tell agencies to scrutinize Big Tech mergers more closely.
  • It will also tell the FTC to draw up rules for how tech companies can gather and use consumer data.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden will on Friday sign an executive order cracking down on the power of Big Tech firms, as first reported by The New York Times.

The fact-sheet for the wide-ranging executive order focusing on “promoting competition in the American economy” was posted by the White House Friday morning. Technology makes up just one part of the order, which also targets sectors like the job market, healthcare, and transportation – but it takes specific aim at Big Tech platforms.

The order will, first, tell federal agencies to scrutinize mergers involving Big Tech firms more closely, especially when these firms try to buy smaller companies that could one day become their competitors.

Second, the order says Big Tech platforms are “gathering too much personal information,” and will instruct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to draw up rules and limitations on how Big Tech companies can hoover up consumer data.

The order also says Big Tech companies can use their troves of data to give themselves an advantage over smaller businesses, and asks the FTC to draw up rules “barring unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces.”

On top of the orders specifically targeting Big Tech companies, Biden will also reportedly ask the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create new rules for broadband internet providers, and encourage the FCC to readopt net neutrality rules.

Big Tech companies including Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google are already under intense antitrust scrutiny in Washington.

In June, Congress introduced a series of bills directed at these four companies, and Biden appointed renowned Big Tech critic Lina Khan as head of the FTC, a move that prompted Amazon to ask that Khan be removed from any enforcement decisions involving the company.

Read more: Amazon is finally terrified of someone in Washington. That’s great news for America.

Facebook faces lawsuits for its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014 respectively. In December 2020, the FTC and 46 states filed two lawsuits seeking to break off Instagram and WhatsApp from Facebook. The lawsuits allege Facebook acquired the companies to stifle competition.

Facebook responded that the lawsuit was an attempt to revise history, and that the acquisitions had been cleared by agencies at the time. “We have operated and continue to operate in a highly competitive space. Our acquisitions have been good for competition, good for advertisers and good for people,” it said in a statement at the time.

Amazon has also been the target of criticism from lawmakers, who claim that it can use consumer data to get a competitive advantage over third-party sellers on its platform. Biden’s executive order specifically cites an October 2020 House Judiciary Committee report which alleged that Amazon used data from third-party sellers to develop its own competing products. Amazon has repeatedly denied this claim.

Google was hit with an antitrust suit from 36 attorneys general on Thursday over its control of the Android Play Store – six months after attorneys general filed a lawsuit claiming it abused its dominance in online ad sales. Google called the latest suit “meritless”, saying it was not about “helping the little guy.”

Apple is not the subject of any lawsuits from lawmakers, but pushed back against two of the five bills introduced by Congress in June, claiming they would damage the security of iPhones and, by extension, users’ privacy.

The New York Times reported CEO Tim Cook personally rang House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lobby against the bills.

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Experts say it’ll take more than just breaking up Facebook to rein in Big Tech and protect your data

facebook mark zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2019.

  • If Facebook spun off Instagram and WhatsApp, it would still have all of your data.
  • Congress wants to force Facebook to share that data with other platforms to promote competition.
  • Experts say there needs to be a provision ensuring user rights are protected. Otherwise, expect “disaster.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A potential forced break up of Facebook has been discussed for years, and that conversation has only been re-ignited as Congress mulls five new bills designed to rein in Big Tech.

But what would that implosion mean for the mountain of personal data Facebook has already collected on its hundreds of millions of users? According to experts, not much.

Two of the five bills introduced last month would force Facebook to share that data with competing apps and platforms, a feature known as interoperability.

Experts told Insider this can be a good thing. It’s how tech companies work together to make services useful for you – like how you’re able to sign in to apps using your Facebook or Google credentials or send an email from Gmail to a Yahoo address. The practice encourages people to use multiple platforms, instead of getting siloed into one specific ecosystem.

The idea is to foster healthy online competition since tech giants would relinquish their dominant grip on hordes of data and would instead share them with rivals. That proposal also stipulates that Facebook share data with Instagram and WhatsApp if it did spin off the subsidiaries.

Herbert Hovenkamp, an antitrust law expert and professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, told Insider it could be similar to when the Bell System telephone giant was broken up in 1984: all seven of the Bell branches still had access to certain information to maintain optimal operability.

But experts said simply forcing Facebook to divest its acquisitions wouldn’t mean better safeguarding user data.

Hovenkamp said that “a spinoff wouldn’t automatically take any data way” since who has what information has nothing to do with a potential breakup.

And it wouldn’t change how Facebook conducts its data-sharing business. Facebook can enter into a B2B “data-sharing agreement providing them with the exact same data they held prior to the spinout,” Tim Derdenger, an associate professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon, told Insider.

Instead, the experts said there would need to be some sort of provision included in the divestiture order to make sure that user data had adequate safety guards.

Otherwise, a plain and simple break-up could mean Facebook sharing your personal information with more entities to comply with interoperability requirements that are laid out in the proposed legislation.

“You’d need to have a mechanism so people could opt-out of sharing or specify what they do or don’t want shared,” Hovenkamp said.

Without that mechanism, user data would be shared more broadly – not exactly protected – in the name of healthy market competition.

“If there is no provision, it could be a disaster,” Hovenkamp said.

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Amazon really doesn’t like the FTC’s new chair

Lina Khan during a Senate meeting in April 2021.
Lina Khan during a Senate meeting in April 2021.

  • Amazon is not a fan of Lina Khan, a vocal big tech critic who now leads the FTC.
  • The company filed a request to have her removed from any enforcement decisions involving Amazon.
  • In 2017, Khan wrote a widely-read paper about how Amazon has escaped antitrust scrutiny.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon really doesn’t like the Federal Trade Commission’s new leader.

The company on Wednesday filed a 25-page request to the FTC to have Lina Khan removed from any enforcement decision involving Amazon. That would include the FTC’s current review of Amazon’s $8.45 billion acquisition of MGM, as well as an antitrust investigation into the company that is already in process.

Amazon says there’s a conflict of interest because Khan has been publicly critical of large tech companies, especially Amazon, in the past.

“Given her long track record of detailed pronouncements about Amazon, and her repeated proclamations that Amazon has violated the antitrust laws, a reasonable observer would conclude that she no longer can consider the company’s antitrust defenses with an open mind,” Amazon said in the filing, which was published by Axios and also reported by Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

An FTC spokesperson declined to comment, saying petitions and letters to the FTC are not public.

Khan gained notoriety in the tech and antitrust law worlds after she wrote a paper in 2017 titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.” She said the current antitrust framework is outdated, which enabled the company to evade antitrust scrutiny, despite growing rapidly and using predatory pricing.

She also made the argument in the paper for what it will look like if Amazon were to be broken up.

Amazon also said Khan is biased because she helped the House investigate Amazon and other big tech firms over online competition. After lawmakers conducted the months-long probe, they released a report calling tech companies “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.”

President Joe Biden appointed the 32-year-old Big Tech critic to the post earlier this month, and antitrust reformers rejoiced that a vocal anti-monopoly advocate would be helming the agency.

Many dubbed Khan “Big Tech’s biggest nightmare” as the industry, which long operated with little regulatory oversight, may soon be put in its place

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Facebook is now worth $1 trillion after a US court’s dismissal of 2 antitrust lawsuits spurs jump in stock

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Testifies Before The House Financial Services Committee
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Facebook hit a $1 trillion valuation for the first time on Monday after an antitrust court victory.
  • A US judge dismissed two lawsuits lodged against Facebook by the FTC and state attorneys general.
  • The social-media giant is the youngest of five US companies to reach the trillion-dollar milestone.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Facebook leapt into the $1 trillion territory on Monday after an antitrust court victory helped its stock reach that valuation for the first time, making it the fifth US company to achieve the milestone.

The social-media giant’s stock closed 4.2% higher on Monday at $355.64 per share, after a US federal judge dismissed two complaints filed against the company in December by the Federal Trade Commission and a group of state attorneys general.

The ensuing rally lifted Facebook into the trillion-dollar club as markets gave the court win a huge “like,” and boosted the rest of the tech sector, said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA.

US District Judge James Boasberg in Washington ruled that the FTC failed to support its claims that Facebook held monopoly power as it controls more than 60% of the social-networking market. However, the antitrust and consumer protection agency has 30 days to refile its complaint and try again.

Social networking “services are free to use, and the exact metes and bounds of what even constitutes a [social networking] service – i.e., which features of a company’s mobile app or website are included in that definition and which are excluded – are hardly crystal clear,” Boasberg said in the ruling dismissing the FTC’s complaint.

“The FTC’s inability to offer any indication of the metric(s) or method(s) it used to calculate Facebook’s market share renders its vague ‘60%-plus’ assertion too speculative and conclusory to go forward,” he added.

The judge separately dismissed a lawsuit brought by 46 states challenging Facebook’s purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp, on grounds that they waited too long to put forward their claims. The states’ attorneys general argued that Facebook had acquired those companies to stifle competition from emerging social-media rivals.

Facebook, co-founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, is the youngest of five US companies to hit the $1 trillion milestone, after just 17 years of existence. The Menlo Park, California-based company’s all-time-high market valuation sees it join other tech leaders Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google parent Alphabet in reaching the 13-digit mark.

Facebook’s stock has added more than $592 billion in value since it hit a March 2020 market-cap low of about $416 billion. Its gains have been aided by people increasingly relying on its platform for staying in touch with friends, family, and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read More: BANK OF AMERICA: Buy these 7 stocks to capture the investing frenzy as ETF inflows are on track for a record-breaking year

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Cattle markets have been upended, and big meat producers are making 20 times normal margins as beef prices soar

cows beef cattle

Soaring beef prices are making big meatpackers fat and happy while smaller players are left cleaning up the scraps, according to a New York Times story published this week.

As restaurants have reopened and with America’s grilling season underway, demand has upended cattle markets. Futures contracts on ready-for-slaughter cattle have shot up 6.6% year-to-date and 27.7% in the last year. Wholesale beef prices are up 40% since March.

Meanwhile, meat-eaters are already paying 5% more for ground beef and 9% for steaks year-on-year, according to NielsenIQ data cited by the Times.

Elevated demand is bringing on new supply. Second-quarter beef production and beef-cow slaughter rates are up year-on-year, 1.6% and 10% respectively, according to a RaboResearch report. That has partially been driven by drought conditions on the west coast, which have encouraged farmers to cull cows early.

Sizzling demand isn’t the only factor at play, though. Grocers, smaller ranchers, and some members of Congress are alleging that the four biggest meatpacking companies – three of which are US-based – have colluded to tamp down the beef supply, keeping prices artificially high.

Fat margins are breeding suspicion. Cargill, a meat processor and America’s largest private company, is making as much as 20 times normal profit margins per cattle head, according to RaboResearch. Even compared to past periods of pricey beef, Cargill’s margins are still elevated by a factor of six.

One Montana-based small-time rancher told the Times he hasn’t turned a profit in four years – and he blames the big meatpackers. He, like other critics, believes beef supply is being manipulated, likely as a result of non-transparent practices and consolidation in the meat-processing industry.

Antitrust pressure is growing, including from a DOJ probe of the meatpackers’ potential anticompetitive practices. The “big four” processors – which collectively control 80% of the industry – were subpoenaed in the investigation last year, and this May, a bipartisan group of senators encouraged the DOJ to redouble its efforts.

The big four have shown some signs of investing in supply expansion. US-based National Beef is expanding an Iowa-based plant and Brazil’s JBS is investing hundreds of millions in higher wages and more robust facilities, per the Times report.

“We believe our investments in increasing capacity and offering industry-leading wages to attract workers will lead to more opportunities for producers and benefits to consumers,” a spokesman for JBS told the Times.

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Google has offered the UK government full oversight of its plan to abandon third-party cookies in Chrome, which sent the ad industry into a tailspin

Sundar Pichai
Sundar Pichai’s Google has offered the CMA oversight of its plans to drop the use of third-party cookies.

  • Google has offered UK officials full oversight of its plans to ditch third-party cookies in Chrome.
  • The tech giant’s move to drop third-party cookies sent the ad industry into a tailspin last year.
  • The UK’s CMA could soon have the power to block Chrome changes for up to 60 days.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google has offered UK officials full oversight of its plans to abandon the use of third-party cookies within its Chrome browser, as competition authorities around the world consider antitrust action against the move.

The tech giant’s plans to do away with third-party cookies, which help businesses target individual users, sent the advertising industry into a tailspin when it was first announced in January 2020 – no surprise, given Chrome is thought to make up almost two-thirds of web-browsing activity.

Third-party cookies allow advertisers to follow users around the internet, and target them with personalized ads. Without that option in Chrome, Google may be in a position to exercise greater control over the advertising market, offering ad products based around its first-party data collected from search, Gmail, YouTube, and app downloads, expected to come in the form of its still-in-development “Privacy Sandbox”. Few of Google’s peers and rivals in advertising can hope to match its data trove.

The plan has run into resistance from the ad industry, with Marketers for an Open Web, a consortium representing around 20 marketing firms, filing a complaint with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), demanding “long-term competitive remedies to mitigate” its dominance. The watchdog announced an investigation into the move shortly thereafter.

On Friday morning, the CMA announced it had “secured commitments from Google to address concerns” around its plans to do away with third-party cookies in Chrome, including: Increased transparency, substantial limits on how Google will use Chrome data for advertising, and agreeing not to discriminate against rivals in favor of its own advertising products.

Most significantly, Google offered the CMA a 60-day “standstill period” before it introduces any changes, during which the watchdog retains the option of reopening its investigation, should any issues arise.

“The emergence of tech giants such as Google has presented competition authorities around the world with new challenges that require a new approach,” Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive said.

“That’s why the CMA is taking a leading role in setting out how we can work with the most powerful tech firms to shape their behaviour and protect competition to the benefit of consumers.”

James Rosewell, the Marketers for an Open Web founder , said the CMA’s intervention represented an opportunity for a “genuine privacy change”, rather than the changes that Google had “tried to shoehorn in through the backdoor.”

“I hope Google recognizes that it failed to engage with the industry: it lectured, rather than debated,” he told Insider. “Luckily, this provides them with an opportunity to come back to the table and think more carefully about changes moving forward.”

In a statement, Google legal director Oliver Bethell said the company had welcomed the CMA’s investigation into the company’s sandbox. Bethell said the tech giant had offered a set of commitments that were the result of “many hours of discussions with the CMA and more generally with the broader web community” around how the sandbox will be designed.

“The CMA is now asking others in the industry for feedback on these commitments as part of a public consultation, with a view to making them legally binding,” he said.

“If the CMA accepts these commitments, we will apply them globally.”

Are you a current or former Googler with more to share? You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+447801985586) or email (mcoulter@businessinsider.com). Reach out using a nonwork device.

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Democrats plan to take on big tech with 5 major antitrust bills aimed at making it easier to weaken monopolies

big tech ceos

House Democrats plan to introduce five separate bills as early as this week that could dramatically reign in big tech companies’ economic dominance, Politico reported Wednesday.

The bills address a number of lawmakers’ concerns about the growing power of tech titans like Amazon, Apple, Alphabet-owned Google, and Facebook.

One bill, headed up by Rep. Pramilia Jayapal, of Washington, would let the Department of Justice or Federal Trade Commission sue to break up tech companies by forcing them to sell parts of their business that present a conflict of interest, Politico reported. That could spell trouble for companies like Amazon and Google, which critics say use their dominance of web hosting and digital ad markets to promote their own products and services.

A second bill, authored by Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, would ban large tech companies from favoring their own products in digital marketplaces they operate and set the rules for, according to Politico. That takes aim at how Apple’s App Store policies impact app developers and how Amazon treats third-party sellers in its marketplace.

A third bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, would prohibit platform companies from acquiring or merging with potential competitors, Politico reported. That follows criticism of Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, and the FTC’s probe into potentially anticompetitive acquisitions by Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.

A fourth bill, sponsored by Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, of Pennsylvania, would require platforms with more than 500,000 US users, or those designated by regulators as a “critical trading partner,” to make it easier for users to move their data to rival platforms, Politico reported. Lawmakers have criticized Facebook and Google for hoarding users’ personal data in an endless “feedback loop” that helps them maintain their market power.

The final bill, identical to one sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in a spending bill that passed this week, Politico reported, would require companies to pay antitrust regulators more when seeking their approval for mergers. Regulators are vastly underresourced compared to the tech giants they’re tasked with regulating, placing them at a huge disadvantage if they seek to block a merger and it goes to court – increased legal fees could help balance the scales.

The set of bills reflects recommendations from a landmark 449-page House Judiciary Committee report last fall that called the companies monopolies that needed to be broken up.

The report was the result of an extensive investigation in which the committee probed whether major tech companies had used their size and market position to engage in anticompetitive behaviors that unfairly harmed rivals, consumers, and society more broadly.

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An Amazon exec said ‘competition is a good thing’ as the company pushes into the health space

Babak Parviz
Babak Parviz

  • Amazon’s VP overseeing some healthcare efforts said he welcomes competition in the sector.
  • The e-commerce and cloud giant has major ambitions in the healthcare space.
  • The comments come as Amazon faces antitrust scrutiny.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon’s vice president overseeing some of its healthcare efforts said the tech giant belongs in the health space, as every sector needs competition from large, medium, and small-sized companies.

Babak Parviz, vice president at Amazon who was also credited with creating Google Glass, said at the Wall Street Journal Tech Health conference that the company is pushing into the health space to improve the US health system using the company’s expertise.

Parviz added that Amazon is being respectful of larger players and health systems established in the space, though he does not want to see only a handful of dominant players.

“What we don’t want to see is a handful of big entities, big companies, big healthcare systems dominating a sector,” Parviz said at the conference. “So a healthy sector will have large companies, many mid-sized companies, and many, many startup companies.”

Read more: Amazon loses another high-profile executive who was hired to lead its cloud apps and open source efforts just two years ago

Parviz’s comments come weeks after Washington, DC, Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit accusing Amazon of stifling competition for third-party sellers on its marketplace. The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly investigating whether Amazon violated antitrust laws by collecting third-party seller data to create or favor their own similar products.

The e-commerce giant launched Amazon Care, an online and in-person primary care service for employees, in 2019. Amazon intends to sell the service to businesses, Insider first reported, which Parviz confirmed during the WSJ conference by saying he will announce the multiple companies that elected to use Amazon Care “in the coming months.”

Other tech behemoths, including Google and Microsoft, have released products targeted at clinicians and health systems over the last several years.

Parviz said Amazon welcomes the competition from “many other contributors” within healthcare.

“I think competition is a good thing, I hope to to see more and more of it in any sector,” he said.

Amazon was not immediately available for additional comment.

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Google agrees to change its ad practices after France’s antitrust watchdog fined the tech giant $267 million

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing "examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Young
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai. The tech giant was fined €220 million as part of a settlement with France’s competition watchdog.

  • Google is making changes to its ad services after France’s antitrust watchdog fined it $267 million.
  • The watchdog found Google abused its market power, putting other companies at a disadvantage.
  • Google said it would improve its ad services with third-party ad server and ad space sales platform.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Alphabet’s Google has agreed to make changes to some of its widely-used online advertising services as part of an unprecedented settlement with France’s antitrust watchdog.

The California-based tech giant was also fined €220 million ($267.48 million) by the authority in the agreement that was revealed on Monday. The probe found Google had abused its market power in the intricate ad business online, where some of its tools have become almost essential for large publishers.

The watchdog’s decision is an attempt to rebalance the power struggle over online ads in favour of publishers, which held sway in the business in the pre-internet era, but lost considerable ground with the rise of Google and Facebook.

The French Competition Authority (FCA) said the decision opens the way for publishers who felt disadvantaged to seek damages from Google. Many publishers globally have expressed unhappiness over ad practices employed by the tech giants.

“The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it’s the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies,” said France’s antitrust chief Isabelle de Silva.

De Silva said the fine was reduced because of the settlement, but she did not give specifics.

A Google spokesperson didn’t immediately reply to a request seeking comment. The watchdog said Google will not seek to appeal the authority’s decision in court.

The FCA’s investigation focused on the tools Google offers publishers online to sell and manage online ads.

The settlement with Google shows the firm is ready bend to antitrust pressure and make operational changes to some of its most popular ad business tools, whose success relies on the trove of data it has amassed over the years.

The watchdog found that Google Ad Manager, the firm’s ad management platform for large publishers favoured AdX, its own online ad marketplace, where publishers sell space to advertisers in real-time. It did so notably by providing AdX strategic data such as the winning bidding prices.

The watchdog also said Google AdX offered Google Ad Manager superior interoperability features than for rival so-called sell-side platforms (SSP), the crucial technology that allows publishers to manage advertising spaces available for purchase, fill them with ads and receive revenue.

Under the terms of the settlement, Google offered commitments to improve the interoperability of Google Ad Manager services with third-party ad server and ad space sales platform, the watchdog said.

The watchdog said it had accepted these commitments and that they were binding in its decision. The case follows a complaint by News Corp, French news publishing group Le Figaro, and Belgian press group Rossel.

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