European Commission to Probe Antitrust Allegations Against Google
European regulators are investigating Google’s job search service “Google for Jobs” on suspicions that the search engine giant favours its tool at the expense of competitors. On Tuesday, Margrethe Vestager, European Competition Commissioner, compared Google for Jobs with the company’s comparison shopping tool, which was handed a $2.7 billion fine two years ago.
Google Might be Fined Again
Google for Jobs was launched in 2017 and has already received multiple complaints from rival job listing services. The latter ones sent a letter to the antitrust chief, asking for an urgent investigation.
Earlier in August, 23 European job search site operators required the European Commission (EC) to force Google to suspend anti-competitive behaviour while the regulator looks into the matter.
Vestager has previously imposed Google fines worth about $9 billion in three different cases, and she seems to be open to another investigation. The antitrust chief said during a conference:
We're looking right now at whether the same thing may have happened with other parts of Google's business – like the job search business known as Google for Jobs.
She added that the EC could apply rules to increase control over tech companies if they’re not sticking to fair play behaviour. Vestager noted:
There's also a broader issue for our societies, of whether we think it's right for companies like Google and others to have such control over the success or failure of other companies, and be free to use that power in any way they like.
The official added that Europe might require regulation to ensure that platforms like Google use their power in a way that doesn’t discriminate competitors.
On the other side, Google said that it had implemented some changes to its job search tool after receiving feedback in Europe.
A representative of the European Commission told CNBC that a preliminary investigation into Google for Jobs had started indeed, though he didn’t reveal more details on it.
How Can The Investigation Affect Google?
Investors might be interested to know whether the current investigation will have an impact on the share price.
When the news about the EC’s investigation came out on Tuesday, Alphabet’s share price slightly declined, but it bounced back right away. On Thursday, Google’s stock closed the session with a 1.86% gain. The price followed the general trend of the US stock market, which was boosted by hopes that the trade conflict with China will appease without serious consequences.
However, the chances are that the price will be negatively impacted if the EC decides to fine Google at some point after it completes its investigation. While EU antitrust examinations might take several years to reach a final verdict, they can result in fines of up to 10% of a business’ annual revenue.
Anatol has been writing for our news site for a year and is the newest member of our team. While he’s new to us, he’s certainly not new to trading with over 10 years’ experience being a professional financial journalist and working in the markets.