European Union regulators ended an antitrust probe into e-book prices on Thursday, accepting an offer by Apple  and four publishers to ease pricing restrictions on Amazon  and other retailers.

The decision hands online retailer Amazon a victory in its attempt to sell e-books cheaper than rivals in the fast-growing market publishers hope will boost revenue and customer numbers. Reuters first reported in November that the Commission was accepting the settlement offer.

The European Commission said in a statement on Thursday that the concessions from Apple and the publishers soothe concerns that their pricing deals curb competition.

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Amazon wins EU e-book pricing battle

“The commitments proposed by Apple and the four publishers will restore normal competitive conditions in this new and fast-moving market, to the benefit of the buyers and readers of e-books,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.

Apple and the publishers offered to let retailers set prices or discounts for a period of two years, and also to suspend “most-favoured nation” contracts for five years.

Such clauses bar Simon & Schuster , News Corp. unit HarperCollins, Lagardere SCA's Hachette Livre and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, the owner of German company Macmillan, from making deals with rival retailers to sell e-books more cheaply than Apple.


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