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Informal antitrust chats confirmed by spokesman

EU holds talks with Microsoft and Yahoo

EU antitrust regulators are having informal discussions with Microsoft and Yahoo about their search engine deal, according to reports.

A source told Reuters that the companies’ talks with the European Commission were exploratory, rather than to do with competition concerns.

Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans confirmed that discussions were being held.

"As we said when the agreement was announced, we anticipated that this deal will be closely reviewed in the United States and EU, and discussions in both geographies continue," he told Reuters. "We remain hopeful the deal will close in early 2010."

Microsoft and Yahoo struck a deal in July to combine their search engines in a challenge to market leader Google. Under the ten year deal, the two companies would jointly hold around 30 per cent of the US search market.

US antitrust authorities requested more documents from Yahoo and Microsoft last week – both companies have said they do not expect an antitrust review to be completed until early next year.

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