Google Gets a Thumbs Up from EU to Buy Motorola

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) got the okay today from European Union authorities to go ahead with its planned $12.5 billlion acquisition of mobile handset manufacturer Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI), Reuters reports.

Although the company received unconditional EU regulatory approval for the merger, the European Commission said it plans to oversee the use of patents by Google and its competitors to ensure compliance with EU antitrust laws, the report said. The EU executive, which regulates competition in the 27-member European Union, said it doesn’t see the purchase significantly altering the market for operating systems and patents for handsets.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the deal was approved because “upon careful examination, this transaction does not itself raise competition issues,” according to the report. But Almunia said he was concerned about possible misuse of patents by Google and other companies that are now involved in legal battles over intellectual property rights.

Approval from the U.S. Justice Department is expected this week, with Chinese regulators expected to determine by March 20 whether they will approve the deal or begin a third phase of review, Reuters reported, citing a source close to the situation. Regulators in Israel and Taiwan also have yet to approve the merger.

Last August, Web search giant Google announced plans to buy Motorola with the intention of improving its patent portfolio to better compete with rivals such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). Google also hopes Motorola’s 17,000 patents and its 7,500 pending patent applications will be useful for defending itself and manufacturers using its Android phone software in patent lawsuits.

Here’s how these stocks are reacting to the news:

Motorola, Inc. (NYSE:MMI): MMI shares recently traded at $39.63, up $0.18, or 0.46%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $20.77 to $39.56. Volume today was 15,227,024 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 4,233,250 shares. The company’s trailing earnings are $-0.84 per share.

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG): GOOG shares recently traded at $612.76, up $6.85, or 1.13%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $473.02 to $670.25. Volume today was 1,385,308 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 2,989,930 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 20.60, while trailing earnings are $29.76 per share.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): AAPL shares recently traded at $501.32, up $7.9, or 1.6%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $310.50 to $497.62. Volume today was 15,035,388 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 12,549,000 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 14.28, while trailing earnings are $35.14 per share.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gina Smith at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com