Googolora receives critical regulatory approval

Amid rumors the US Justice Department will approve Google's merger with Motorola Mobility this week, the European Union's Competition Commission acted first, clearing the deal.

In a procedural move, the European Commission halted merger review in mid December, after requesting additional information. Today's approval puts Googolora (not any official name, of course) within view. Merger now seems all but inevitable.

"We have approved the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google because, upon careful examination, this transaction does not itself raise competition issues", Joaquín Almunia, EC vice president, says. "Of course, the Commission will continue to keep a close eye on the behavior of all market players in the sector, particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents".

In August, Google offered $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility, in Larry Page's first, big merger since returning as the search and information giant's CEO.

"We’re happy that today the European Commission approved our proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility", Don Harrison, Google deputy general counsel, says. "This is an important milestone in the approval process and it moves us closer to closing the deal. We are now just waiting for decisions from a few other jurisdictions before we can close this transaction".

He emphasizes: "The combination of Google and Motorola Mobility will help supercharge Android", Harrison claims. "It will also enhance competition and offer consumers faster innovation, greater choice and wonderful user experiences".

Those may not be idle boasts. Moto's huge patent portfolio -- 17,000, and another 7,000 in process -- could help defend Android from relentless Apple patent claims. Motorola's manufacturing and research and development operations should boost Google's ability to crank out reference designs benefiting all Android OEMs. However, channel conflict, stemming from competition with other Android licensees is a potentially big downside.

Samsung, one of the largest Android licensees and the most successful competing with Apple, already is putting more weight behind homegrown Bada development.

Update: Later on Monday, the Justice Department cleared the merger, too.

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