BRUSSELS Dec 13 European Union regulators ended
an antitrust probe into e-book prices on Thursday, accepting an
offer by Apple and four publishers to ease pricing
restrictions on Amazon and other retailers.
The decision hands online retailer Amazon a victory
in its attempt to sell e-books cheaper than rivals in the
fast-growing market publishers hope will boost revenue and
customer numbers. Reuters first reported in November that the
Commission was accepting the settlement offer.
The European Commission said in a statement on Thursday that
the concessions from Apple and the publishers soothe concerns
that their pricing deals curb competition.
"The commitments proposed by Apple and the four publishers
will restore normal competitive conditions in this new and
fast-moving market, to the benefit of the buyers and readers of
e-books," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.
Apple and the publishers offered to let retailers set prices
or discounts for a period of two years, and also to suspend
"most-favoured nation" contracts for five years.
Such clauses bar Simon & Schuster, News Corp.
unit HarperCollins, Lagardere SCA's Hachette
Livre and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, the owner of
German company Macmillan, from making deals with rival retailers
to sell e-books more cheaply than Apple.