Google has said that it had completed its acquisition of internet advertising firm DoubleClick and would start detailed planning on integrating the two companies that could include layoffs.
The announcement by Google chief executive Eric Schmidt came Tuesday hours after EU regulators approved the deal unconditionally, despite concerns by privacy advocates on both sides of the Atlantic about the implications of marrying Google's information about what people do on the web with DoubleClick's ability to serve banner ads targeted to individual consumers.
Competitors like Yahoo and Microsoft had also expressed concerns that the combination would hurt competition in the $40.9-billion global online ad market.
In a statement, the European Commission said the transaction "would not significantly impede effective competition within the European Economic Area or a significant part of it," since the two companies were not considered competitors.
The US Federal Trade Commission approved the $3.1-billion deal in December.
Google's takeover of the leading provider of banner ads on the Internet should allow it to further extend its dominant position in online advertising.
"With DoubleClick, Google now has the leading display-ad platform," Schmidt said in a statement. "As with most mergers, there may be reductions in headcount. We expect these to take place in the US and possibly in other regions as well," Schmidt said. "We know that DoubleClick is built on the strength of its people. For this reason we'll strive to minimize the impact of this process on all of our clients and employees."
Ed Black, president and chief executive of the US Computer and Communications Industry Association, said the EU decision showed that the commission was even-handed in dealing with antitrust issues, even when US regulators might ignore concerns for political reasons.
"Because robust competition is very important, and because competition issues in high tech sometimes require extensive evaluation, we are pleased that the EU has stepped up and taken on the responsibility to act where necessary, especially in those instances where domestic political considerations may have blunted US action," Black said in a statement.
Black went on to say that the approval of the Google-DoubleClick merger without conditions "shows that the European Commission is handling antitrust issues in a balanced way and that it is not unduly tough on American companies".