October 29, 2008

Russia Blocks Google Online Ad Acquisition

Google's planned acquisition of Russia-based online advertising firm ZAO Begun has been blocked by the country's Federal Anti-monopoly Service authority.

FAS said the deal was blocked because Google had not provided enough information that would allow FAS to properly assess the consequences of the acquisition which could potentially hurt competition.

Yandex is the largest search engine in Russia followed by Google and Rambler Media in the second and the third spots.

Google had agreed to buy Begun earlier this year from Rambler Media, owner of Russia's Rambler Internet portal for $140m. Begun is the largest contextual advertising network in Russia with over 40,000 advertisers and an online ad network of 143,000 Russian language sites. It offers a service similar to Google's targeted text ad service AdSense.

Alla Zabrovskaya, director of public relations at Google Russia, said: "We are very disappointed to hear that FAS has come to this decision since we strongly believe that this acquisition will enable us to significantly improve opportunities for Russian users, advertisers, and publishers as well as the entire industry."

According to a survey conducted by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, Russia offers an untapped market for the internet, with only 11% of users logging on every day, 9% using it several times a week, and 10% using it from several times a month to once a year.