Bloomberg News

Apple, E-Book Publishers Probed by European Union Regulators

December 06, 2011

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. and units of News Corp., CBS Corp., Pearson Plc and Lagardere SCA face a European Union investigation into e-book publishing agreements.

The European Commission said it opened a formal antitrust investigation to examine “whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or effect of restriction competition” in Europe.

The probe will examine deals between Apple and Lagardere’s Hachette Livre, News Corp.’s Harper Collins, CBS’s Simon & Schuster, Pearson’s Penguin and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH and agency agreements between the five publishers and e-book retailers. Britain’s Office of Fair Trading said in a statement on its website earlier today that it would drop its probe into e-books to allow EU officials to take the lead.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said last month that he wanted to fight “artificial restrictions imposed by some companies to cross-border trade” which are “particularly important in the digital area where I have already started to look at the distribution practices of certain products such as e -books.”

--Editor: Peter Chapman

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.


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