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Head of FTC Won't Recuse from Google Deal

Kim Hart

Deborah Platt Majoras, the head of the Federal Trade Commission, said today she won't recuse herself from reviewing Google's purchase of DoubleClick, leading some analysts to believe that the deal will be approved.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy said in a petition Wednesday that Majoras' husband, John Majoras, is a partner at the Jones Day law firm, which the groups said is representing DoubleClick before the FTC on the matter. As a result, the groups called her to remove herself from the review to prevent a financial conflict of interest.

Deborah said the law firm has not come before the FTC on the deal, and John said he has not been involved with the transaction. Jones Day is representing DoubleClick before the European Commission, which is also taking a look at the deal.

She also said in a statement that her husband is no longer an equity partner in the firm, meaning that he will not get more compensation even if the firm does.

Commissioner William Kovacic's wife is also a partner at Jones Day. He said he also would not recuse himself from the review. The groups did not call for his removal in their petition.

In a statement today, the two groups said they don't think Deborah Majores has made a persuasive case against recusal, adding that the incident "indicates a clear need to review and strengthen the Commision's conflict of interest procedures." They also accused Jones Day of destroying relevant evidence linking the firm to DoubleClick before the FTC.

Blair Levin, an analyst with Stifel Niclaus, said he believes the deal will be approved. "We believe this is good news for Google because we understand Ms. Majoras supports adopting the staff recommendation to approve the merger with few, if any conditions," he said today in a note to investors.

By Kim Hart  |  December 14, 2007; 3:10 PM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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