The inquiry began at the end of last week…[t]his step, known as a “second request” for information, can suggest that a proposed acquisition raises more serious antitrust issues. But legal experts said the request is mainly a sign that the agency is closely scrutinizing the Google deal….Still, privacy issues are not typically the concern of antitrust officials. In reviewing a proposed merger, legal experts say, regulators weigh the likely impact on competition and struggle with tricky technical matters like defining the relevant market to measure.
As we reported a few weeks back, it was highly likely an FTC investigation was coming and is often the norm for acquisitions of this size.
The question that also needs asking is, did MSFT shoot itself in the foot, when it started pressuring regulators to investigate the Google deal? At the time, it benefited MSFT to have Google investigated – it’s a big distraction and also raises eyebrows from the general public – but can the company stuff the worms back into the can, now that it has announced its own mega-acquisition of aQuantive?
Surely, if the FTC is investigating Google – a company that is still the darling of the tech world – won’t it also jump on the chance to, once again, give Microsoft some scrutiny?