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Google Shares Slip On EU Antitrust Probe

BRUSSELS ( TheStreet) -- Google's (GOOG - Get Report) stock slipped in early trading on Tuesday following news that the search giant will face an antitrust probe on the other side of the Atlantic.

The company's shares tumbled $16.58, or 2.85%, to $565.52 in Tuesday morning trading. Earlier, the European Commission announced its decision to open an investigation into allegations that Google abused its dominant position in online search.

The move comes after a preliminary probe launched earlier this year following complaints from three European Internet companies. The European Commission, the EU's executive body, confirmed Tuesday that it will investigate whether Google lowered the ranking of unpaid search results of competing services.

"The opening of formal proceedings follows complaints by search service providers about unfavorable treatment of their services in Google's unpaid and sponsored search results coupled with an alleged preferential placement of Google's own services," said the European Commission in a statement.

Google, of course, is no stranger to antitrust struggles. The Texas attorney general is also investigating the Internet's firm method of presenting search results.

The tech bellwether argues that the Google search engine was built for users, not Websites. "It may seem obvious, but people sometimes forget this -- not every website can come out on top, or even appear on the first page of our results, so there will almost always be website owners who are unhappy about their rankings," said Google executives Susan Wojcicki and Udi Manber, in a joint blog posting Tuesday. "The most important thing is that we satisfy our users."

"Since we started Google we have worked hard to do the right thing by our users and our industry -- ensuring that ads are always clearly marked, making it easy for users to take their data with them when they switch services and investing heavily in open source projects," added a Google spokesman, in an email to TheStreet. "But there's always going to be room for improvement, and so we'll be working with the Commission to address any concerns."

Shares of Google rival Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) were largely flat Tuesday, falling 0.02%, to $25.31. Yahoo (YHOO ) fell 27 cents, or 1.68%, to $16.10, as the Nasdaq slipped 0.7%.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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