Brussels — EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager coolly hit Google with a €4.3bn fine last week, the biggest penalty in the history of antitrust enforcement. It did not have to be that way. A year earlier, when the company — already reeling from a €2.4bn fine in another EU case — made quiet attempts to settle the probe into deals it has with Android phone makers, the response was equally chilly. The Silicon Valley search giant had waited at least a year too long to broach the subject of a settlement, Vestager said in an interview. When a company wants to settle, it needs to "reach out immediately after" getting the EU’s initial complaint or statement of objections. "That didn’t happen in this case and then of course it takes the route that it has now taken," Vestager said of the settlement talks, which have not been previously reported. "So no surprises." Google, a unit of Alphabet, has been one of the EU’s biggest antitrust targets, with three probes, countless headlines a...

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