Google, hit with record 4.34 billion euro EU antitrust fine, to appeal

EU antitrust regulators hit Google with a record 4.34 billion euro (£3.87 billion) fine on Wednesday for using its Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals, and Google said it would appeal.

The penalty is nearly double the previous record of 2.4 billion euros which the U.S. tech company was ordered to pay last year over its online shopping search service.

It represents just over two weeks of revenue for Google parent Alphabet Inc. and would scarcely dent its cash reserves of $102.9 billion (£79 billion). But it could add to a brewing trade war between Brussels and Washington.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said she very much liked the United States, countering a reported remark by President Donald Trump that she “hated” the country.

“But the fact is that this has nothing to do with how I feel. Nothing whatsoever. Just as enforcing competition law, we do it in the world, but we do not do it in the political context,” she said.

Google’s parent company Alphabet said in a regulatory filing it would accrue the fine in the second quarter of 2018.

“We are concerned that today’s decision will upset the careful balance that we have struck with Android, and that it sends a troubling signal in favour of proprietary systems over open platforms,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog.

Vestager’s boss, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, is due to meet Trump at the White House next Wednesday in an effort to avert threatened new tariffs on EU cars amid Trump’s complaints over the U.S. trade deficit.

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