Google wants to expand into Russia, but Russia won't let it

Google's attempts to buy a Russian contextual ad firm Begun are now being blocked by antitrust authorities in that country, who have turned down Google's application -- temporarily, at least.

Russian antitrust authorities today rejected an attempt by Google's affiliate there, Kokuna Holding, to buy a contextual advertising firm named Begun from Russian-based portal Rambler for $140 million.

"Today, October 23, FAS [Federal Anti-monopoly Service] Russia released a message to reject petitions filed [by] Kokuna Holding Limited on the acquisition of 100% of the voting shares of JSC Begun. Kokuna Holding is an affiliate of the American Google," according to a translation -- performed by BetaNews using the Google translation engine -- of an article in the Russian publication CNews this morning.

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"The decision to refuse the transaction was made pursuant to paragraph 5 of Part 2 of Article 33 of Law 'On Protection of Competition.' In accordance with this item, FAS may decide to reject the application if the deal would restrict competition, including as a result of the emergence or strengthening the dominant position of the applicant."

But the article in the Russian publication also seems to leave open the possibility that Google's affiliate might simply have erred in its paperwork, and that the buyout of Begun -- which would give Google a big toehold in the Russian online advertising business -- might eventually go through.

CNews quotes a press statement from FAS as saying that the information submitted to the agency about Google was incomplete.

"The lack of complete information about the group Google does not fully reflect the effects of the transaction, but may also indicate a limitation of competition due to a decrease in the number of business entities in the relevant product market is not falling into one group of persons," according to the Russian-to-English machine translation.

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