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Justice Department further probing Bing-Yahoo deal

U.S. Department of Justice has asked Microsoft and Yahoo to provide more information about proposed search engine deal.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

The U.S. Department of Justice has furthered its investigation into the proposed search engine deal between Microsoft and Yahoo by asking both companies to provide more information.

The two companies received an additional request for information earlier this week as expected, Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans told CNET News. He said he couldn't reveal the specifics of the request, citing it as a confidential inquiry from the Justice Department. But he said Microsoft is in the process of providing the requested information.

Yahoo spokesman Adam Grossberg also confirmed to CNET News the Justice Department's request. He couldn't comment on the specifics either but added that Yahoo is cooperating fully.

"We confidently believe the information we'll provide will confirm that the deal is not only good for Yahoo and Microsoft, but also good for advertisers, publishers, and, ultimately, consumers," said Grossberg.

The request for additional information doesn't come as a surprise to either Microsoft or Yahoo.

Under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, mergers or other business deals that meet certain requirements must be reviewed by the government before they can close. Companies have to file the necessary paperwork with the government and then wait 30 days before given clearance to move forward. In some cases, the government requests additional information before making a decision.

Both Microsoft and Yahoo were anticipating a close review of the deal given its scope, said Evans. At a press conference when the deal was announced, the companies said the review would be a matter of months, not weeks, taking it through the fall.

Despite the Justice Department's request for more details, both Microsoft and Yahoo are hopeful the deal will close as expected in early 2010.

Still, the Justice Department is only one battle. The agreement may also require regulatory clearance by the European Commission, which has been tough in its current probe of Oracle-Sun and in past probes of both Intel and Microsoft. Microsoft is currently trying to determine what formal notification, if any, needs to occur in Europe.

But a Microsoft-Yahoo search combination may be seen as less of a competitive threat in Europe where Google enjoys a 90 percent share of the search engine market versus its U.S. share, which ranges anywhere from 63 percent to 72 percent based on recent estimates.

Yahoo and Microsoft announced the deal in July, under which Bing's search engine technology would power Yahoo Search, and Yahoo would sell ad space next to search results, with the two companies splitting the sales.