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EU antitrust chief hopes to settle Apple case soon
October 9, 2012 / 7:00 PM / 5 years ago

EU antitrust chief hopes to settle Apple case soon

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Apple Inc’s antitrust case with the European Union over e-book publishing could be settled in a couple of months, European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Tuesday.

The Apple logo hangs in a glass enclosure above the 5th Ave Apple Store in New York, September 20, 2012. Apple's iPhone 5 goes on sale tomorrow. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Almunia, the EU’s antitrust chief, said he hoped to resolve soon an investigation into Apple and four publishers over deals setting e-book prices.

“Hopefully in the coming couple of months, we will reach a settlement,” Almunia told a British Chamber of Commerce conference.

The European Commission is now market-testing an offer by Apple and the publishers in a bid to end the EU probe. The four are CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster, News Corp unit HarperCollins, French group Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Livre, and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, which owns Macmillan in Germany.

A fifth publisher, Pearson’s Penguin, was also charged in the investigation, but is not participating in the settlement with the commission, which began its inquiry last December.

“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, detailing the offer under consideration.

HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette reached a settlement with the U.S. government in April with similar proposals.

According to analysts at UBS, e-books account for about 30 percent of the U.S. book market and 20 percent of sales in Britain, but are still negligible elsewhere.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Writing by Ethan Bilby; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Leslie Adler

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