EU seen approving Google's Motorola deal: sources
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Google Inc (GOOG.O) is expected to win approval next week from European regulators, as well as from U.S. antitrust authorities, for its planned $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility (MMI.N), according to people familiar with the matter.
Web search leader Google, which is buying the handset maker to boost its patent portfolio, is seen winning unconditional EU clearance for the deal, two people with knowledge of the matter said on Friday.
The deal was announced last August.
The U.S. Justice Department is also expected to approve the acquisition next week, two separate sources who are close to the antitrust review told Reuters on Thursday.
After U.S. and European approval, the companies would still need approval from China. Regulators in China have until March 20 to decide whether to approve the deal or start a third phase of review, according to source close to the situation. It was not immediately possible to contact China's Ministry of Commerce for comment on this story.
Regulators in Israel and Taiwan also have not yet signed off on the deal.
The European Commission is scheduled to decide by Monday whether to clear the deal or embark on a more in-depth review.
"The Commission is expected to clear this deal without requiring any concessions from Google," one of the sources said.
The European regulator is expected to say the deal will not stifle competition, two of the sources said.
One source said it was possible the Commission could decide on Monday to open an in-depth investigation into the deal instead of clearing it, but that this was highly unlikely.
While the U.S. Justice Department and the Commission are coordinating their actions, it is possible their decisions may not come on the same day, another source familiar with the matter said.
Representatives for Motorola and Google declined comment.
Google announced in August that it would buy Motorola for its 17,000 patents and its 7,500 pending patent applications as it looks to compete better with rivals such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and defend itself and manufacturers using its Android phone software in patent litigation cases.
The legal patent war among technology and smartphone makers has prompted the Commission to open an investigation into legal tactics used by Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) against Apple and whether these breach EU antitrust rules.
Earlier this week, Google pledged to license Motorola patents on fair and reasonable terms if the deal succeeds.
In letters to standard-setting organizations around the world, it promised to keep a cap on the fees it charges for licensing its technology. That cap would be 2.25 percent of the net selling price for each phone. Google also outlined the conditions under which it would sue companies for patent infringement.
Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) also promised on the same day not to seek injunctions to ban products based on standard-essential patents.
In 2010, U.S. business software maker Oracle Corp ORCL.O won unconditional EU approval for its $7 billion takeover of Sun Microsystems, a month after a public pledge to rivals and users aimed at easing regulatory concerns.
Google shares closed down $5.55 or almost 1 percent at $605.91 on the Nasdaq, while Motorola Mobility shares finished up 10 cents at $39.45 on the New York Stock Exchange.