PriceRunner sues Google for 2.1 billion euros, prepares for long fight

FILE PHOTO: Klarna logo is seen on smartphone in front of displayed Pricerunner logo in this illustration taken on November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Swedish price comparison firm PriceRunner said on Monday it was suing Alphabet-owned Google for about 2.1 billion euros ($2.4 billion), the latest firm to take legal action alleging the search giant manipulated search results.

Google in November lost an appeal against a 2.42 billion-euro fine it received in 2017 which found using its own price comparison shopping service gave the company an unfair advantage over smaller European rivals.

"They are still abusing the market to a very high extent and haven't changed basically anything," PriceRunner Chief Executive Mikael Lindahl told Reuters in an interview.

PriceRunner, which is in the process of being bought by Swedish fintech Klarna, said a lawsuit it filed in Sweden aimed to make Google pay compensation for the profit it had lost in Britain since 2008, as well as in Sweden and Denmark since 2013.

A Google spokesperson said the company would defend the lawsuit in court.

"The changes we made to shopping ads back in 2017 are working successfully ... PriceRunner chose not to use shopping ads on Google, so may not have seen the same successes that others have," the Google spokesperson said.

Lindahl said PriceRunner was prepared to fight for many years, had secured tens of millions of euros in external financing and had steps in place in the event it did not win.

The European Commission's 2017 fine was the result of a seven-year investigation triggered by scores of complaints that Google distorted internet search results to favour its shopping service, harming rivals and consumers.

The Commission found Google systematically gave prominent placement to its own comparison shopping service and demoted rival comparison shopping services in its search results.

"European consumers have been denied real choice in shopping services for many years and this is one step to ensuring this ends now," a Klarna spokesperson said.

Klarna in November agreed to buy PriceRunner from investment firm Creades for 1.06 billion Swedish crowns ($124.36 million).

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter.

Axel Springer's price comparison shopping service Idealo then sued Google in 2019 for 500 million euros.

($1 = 0.8749 euros)

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, European Technology & Telecoms Correspondent, based in Stockholm; editing by Simon Johnson and Jason Neely)

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