Apple, publishers offer to settle EU antitrust probe

BRUSSELS, Sept 19 Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:43am EDT

BRUSSELS, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Apple and four major publishers have offered to let retailers such as Amazon sell e-books at a discount for two years to end an EU antitrust investigation, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

The EU antitrust watchdog started an investigation into Apple's e-book pricing deals with Simon & Schuster, News Corp unit HarperCollins, French group Lagardere SCA's Hachette Livre, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, which owns Macmillan in Germany and Pearson Plc's Penguin group in December last year.

Apple and the publishers, with the exception of Penguin, subsequently offered to settle with the Commission.

"For a period of two years, the four publishers will not restrict, limit or impede e-book retailers' ability to set, alter or reduce retail prices for e-books and/or to offer discounts or promotions," the European Commission said in its Official Journal.

Reuters had reported the proposal on Aug. 31.

The Commission said the publishers and Apple also offered to suspend most-favoured nation contracts for five years. Third parties have a month to provide feedback on the proposals.

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