By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Alphabet unit Google could face antitrust charges next year over its digital advertising business, with EU regulators frustrated over the slow pace of settlement talks with the company, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Google’s ad business is Alphabet’s biggest moneymaker, accounting for about 80% of annual revenue, despite efforts over the past decade to push into selling hardware, subscription services and cloud computing technology. The European Commission launched an investigation into Google’s adtech business in June last year, concerned that the U.S. tech giant may be getting an unfair advantage over rivals and advertisers.
The company, which risks its fourth billion-euro fine, subsequently sought to settle the case but concessions were minor and very preliminary, one of the people said. Google has racked up more than 8 billion euros ($7.7 billion) in EU antitrust fines in the last decade. The EU competition enforcer is likely to issue the charges early next year although the timing may still change, one of the people said.
The Commission declined to comment. Google, which is the world’s leading seller of online advertising, well ahead of Facebook and Instagram owner Meta Platforms Inc, had no immediate comment.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Paresh Dave in Oakland, California; Editing by Susan Fenton and David Evans)