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EU and UK open antitrust probes into Google and Meta over 2018 ad deal

The logos of Facebook and Google apps displayed on a tablet.
Denis Charlet | AFP via Getty Images

Regulators in the EU and U.K. have opened antitrust probes into Google and Meta, formerly Facebook, over the tech giants’ 2018 ad deal.

The parallel probes, announced Friday, will look at whether the so-called “Jedi Blue” agreement between the two companies hampered competition in markets for online display advertising services.

Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority, said in a statement: “We’re concerned that Google may have teamed up with Meta to put obstacles in the way of competitors who provide important online display advertising services to publishers.”

“If one company has as stranglehold over a certain area, it can make it hard for start-ups and smaller businesses to break into the market – and may ultimately reduce customer choice,” he added.

A Meta spokesperson said: “Meta’s non-exclusive bidding agreement with Google and the similar agreements we have with other bidding platforms, have helped to increase competition for ad placements. These business relationships enable Meta to deliver more value to advertisers and publishers, resulting in better outcomes for all. We will cooperate with both inquiries.”

Google did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

This is a breaking story and will be updated shortly.

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