BRUSSELS, June 18 (Reuters) – Alphabet (GOOGL.O) unit Google could face its biggest regulatory threat, with EU antitrust regulators set to open a formal investigation into its lucrative digital advertising business before the end of the year, said people familiar with the matter.
It would mark a new front by the EU competition enforcer against Google. It has in the last decade fined the company more than 8 billion euros ($9.8 billion) for blocking rivals in online shopping, Android smartphones and online advertising.
An EU probe would focus on Google’s position vis-a-vis advertisers, publishers, intermediaries and rivals, one of the people said, indicating deeper scrutiny than the French antitrust agency’s case concluded last week.
Google made $147 billion in revenue from online ads last year, more than any other company in the world. Ads on its properties, including search, YouTube and Gmail, accounted for the bulk of sales and…