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FTC Blesses Google's DoubleClick Buy

The regulator says the controversial deal won't lessen competition.
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surmounted a big hurdle in its controversial quest to buy


on Thursday as U.S. antitrust regulators approved the $3.1 billion deal.

The Federal Trade Commission decided in a 4-1 one vote to end an eight-month investigation of the purchase, noting in its statement that the deal is "unlikely to substantially lessen competition."

Consumer advocates and competitors such as


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have lobbied hard to block the acquisition, which promises to give Google a stronghold on the burgeoning online ad market.

The deal would combine Google's dominance in online text ads with DoubleClick's ad-serving tools that help publishers place and track display ads.

Last summer, Google execs were called to testify before both houses of Congress about the impact the proposed takeover will have on consumer privacy.

In its statement, the FTC said consumer privacy issues are not unique to Google and DoubleClick, and "extend to the entire online advertising marketplace."

While the deal has the blessing of the FTC, it still faces antitrust scrutiny in Europe, where regulators can be tougher. Google has said that it won't close the deal before it has clearance from the European Commission, which has set a deadline of April 2 to complete its review.

Shares of Google recently were up $4.79, or 0.7%, to $682.16.