One More Step In The Google/Motorola Merger: EU Approval Sought

The Federal Communications Commission in the U.S. may have dealt what might possibly be a fatal blow to AT&T (NYSE: T) in its bid to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom; (NYSE: DT) now another mega mobile merger is coming up to bat against the regulators: Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is formally seeking approval from EU regulators for its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola (NYSE: MMI) Mobility.

According to a filing on the European Commission website dated November 25, Google and Motorola are applying under Council Regulation 139/2004, which covers all rules around merger regulations for the European Commission. The provisional deadline for the regulator’s decision has been set for January 10, 2012.

The acquisition is also being investigated currently by the Department of Justice.

This is the only merger/acquisition case involving Google that is currently being heard by the European Commission, although there are three other cases currently listed where Google is being investigated for antitrust violations.

The plaintiffs in those cases are price-comparison site Foundem; another price-comparison service called Ciao, owned by Microsoft; (NSDQ: MSFT) and French search company 1plusV, which operates the site

It’s not clear how and whether those existing cases could serve to make it more difficult for Google to push its Motorola buy through the courts, but as we noted when the Motorola deal was first announced, Motorola has seen its position in the European market declining for some time now — figures from Strategy Analytics put its share at less that one percent, although it is pushing ahead with the launch of a new Xoom tablet and Razr touchscreen device. Couple that with more investment from Google in flagship Android devices and we could see a reversal in that trend.

Motorola, meanwhile, has been most talked about in Europe of late because of its face-off with Apple in a German court: the company is going after Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) for what it claims are violations of patents it holds in the area of cloud services. Apple faces potential injunctions on its devices and services if Motorola proves to be successful in that ongoing case.