Google’s acquisition of Motorola gets green light

Internet giant Google has cleared the final hurdle in the way of its acquisition of handset manufacturer Motorola Mobility. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce Anti Monopoly Bureau (MOFCOM) approved the deal over the weekend with several conditions.

The Chinese authority’s concerns were similar to those of the European Commission (EC), which gave the go-ahead to the deal in February. The EC said its primary concern was whether Google would try to prevent Motorola’s competitors from using its Android operating system. However, it found that given Google’s core business model is to push its online and mobile services and software to the widest possible audience, Android helps to drive that spread and it is unlikely that Google would restrict the use of Android.

Similarly, MOFCOM found that Google occupies a dominant market position in the Android ecosystem, and could potentially treat other mobile device manufacturers non-preferentially. Or, with respect to Motorola’s patent portfolio, Google could set unreasonable licensing conditions, for other vendors.

As a result, MOFCOM has set down a list of requirements Google must agree to. These include: Providing Android on a “free and open basis” for at least five years; treating all original equipment manufacturers on a non-discriminatory basis; and complying with Motorola’s current fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory patent obligations. Google must also commission an independent trustee to monitor fulfilment of these obligations, the Chinese authority said.

Google is now cleared to close the acquisition and is expected to do over the next week.

Earlier this month Motorola Mobility posted a loss of $86m in its first-quarter earnings for 2012. The loss is $5m deeper than the $81m loss the company made in the same quarter last year. The firm, which is on the verge of being acquired by Google, is still to post an annual profit, having recorded losses for the four years since it was established.

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