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Microsoft attacks Google-DoubleClick merger as anti-competitive

Microsoft Corp urged regulators to closely examine Google's planned purchase of the online advertising firm DoubleClick, charging it would hurt competition.

Microsoft Corp, which itself has long fought antitrust actions in the United States and Europe, was joined in its campaign by AT&T, once part of the US telephone monopoly broken up in the mid-1980s. Microsoft had also sought to acquire DoubleClick, but Google won out, announcing on Friday its largest acquisition ever at $3.1 billion. Attorneys of the software giant warned at the weekend that the deal would combine the two largest distributors of online advertising, thereby hurting competition in the industry, but Google rejected the assertions and expressed confidence that the deal would pass regulatory muster.

Google, the leading internet search engine, is also the market leader in ads placed in online search results while DoubleClick, also a US-based firm, specializes in online display ads, which direct customers to clients' websites when they click on an online ad. Microsoft attorney Brad Smith said the combined company would handle more than 80% of ads that internet users see. He added that Microsoft had contacted other companies about its concerns and expected more firms to join Microsoft's campaign.

The dispute is not the first time Google and Microsoft have been involved in an anti-trust scuffle. Last year, Google charged that Microsoft's Internet Explorer directed users toward Microsoft's MSN search engine instead of Google's or Yahoo's, but US regulators dismissed its claim. (