Bloomberg News

Google Says It’s Being Investigated in Argentina, Korea

April 27, 2012

Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s business practices are the subject of investigations by regulators in Argentina and South Korea, according to a regulatory filing.

Argentina’s main antitrust agency and the Korea Fair Trade Commission in South Korea have opened an investigation into “certain business practices,” Mountain View, California-based Google said in a filing (GOOG:US) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week.

“The Argentinian Competition Commission notified us that they are conducting a preliminary inquiry into our search and search advertising services, and we are of course happy to answer their questions,” Google said in an e-mailed statement.

The probe in South Korea, Google said, “is an ongoing inquiry that started last year and we continue to cooperate with regulators.”

A spokesman at the Korea Fair Trade Commission declined to comment on the investigation or to be identified, citing internal policy prohibiting officials from discussing on-going probes on the record.

Argentina’s antitrust agency started investigating Google in November 2010 to determine if it holds a dominant position in the online search and advertising markets that could have an adverse effect on competition, according to a statement today from the agency.

The agency was considering an investigation into whether Google accepts payments in return for letting certain websites appear at the top of Internet searches, Argentina’s El Cronista newspaper reported early last year, without saying where it obtained the information.

Global Scrutiny

Google’s Seoul office was raided by South Korea’s antitrust regulator as part of a probe into whether the owner of the world’s largest search engine unfairly blocked competitors in the mobile-search market, a person familiar with the investigation said in September.

Google is under pressure from global antitrust agencies, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission, which are probing whether the company takes steps to thwart competition.

The on-site investigation at Google’s Seoul office resulted from complaints filed by NHN Corp. (035420) and Daum Communications Corp. (035720), South Korea’s two largest Internet-search companies, the person with knowledge of the matter said in September.

Google fell less than 1 percent to $614.98 at the close in New York. The stock has declined 4.8 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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