BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Google ( GOOGL.O ) has offered to display rival comparison shopping sites via an auction, as it aims to stave off further EU antitrust fines, four people familiar with the matter said.
Google is under pressure to come up with a big initiative to level the playing field in comparison shopping, but its proposal was roundly criticized by competitors as inadequate, the sources said.
In its proposal submitted to the European Commission on Aug. 29, the company said it would allow competitors to bid for any spot in its shopping section known as Product Listing Ads, the sources said.
Three years ago, the world’s most popular internet search engine made a similar offer in an attempt to settle a long-running investigation by the Commission and stave off a fine.
“Unless Google is volunteering to break up its general-and specialized-search businesses, the inclusion of Google’s comparison shopping competitors into a new or existing pay-for-placement auction would simply create an additional anti-competitive barrier,” the company said.
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