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EU Welcomes Proposals From Publishers In E-Books Case

BRUSSELS -(Dow Jones)- The European Union's antitrust watchdog Wednesday welcomed proposed remedies from Apple Inc. (AAPL) and four other publishers following a transatlantic investigation into the way e-books are priced and sold. "In the context of its antitrust investigation into the distribution of e-books, the European Commission has received proposals of possible commitments from Apple and four international publishers," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said. "I welcome the fact that these five companies are making proposals to reach an early resolution of the case, so promptly after we opened proceedings." In December 2011, the commission started investigating how Apple and CBS Corp.'s (CBS) Simon & Schuster, News Corp.'s (NWS) HarperCollins, Lagardere S.C.A.'s (MMB.FR) Hachette, Pearson PLC's (PSO) Penguin Group and Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, prices e-books under the so-called agency model. Penguin wasn't among the publishers making the proposals to the Commission. Almunia said the commission is in talks with the companies. "We will assess any final proposals of commitments and we will test them with third parties in order to check whether they are sufficient to preserve competition for the benefit of consumers in this fast-growing market," he said. Earlier Wednesday, the U.S. filed an antitrust against several publishers. Three of them--Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins and Hachette--have reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. "I am happy that the very close and productive cooperation between the DOJ and the Commission has benefited the investigations on both sides of the Atlantic," Almunia said. News Corp. also owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of this newswire and The Wall Street Journal. -By Frances Robinson, Dow Jones Newswires; +32 2 741 1486; frances.robinson@dowjones.com

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