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Penguin to Drop Apple E-Book Deal to Settle EU Antitrust Probe

Penguin to Drop Apple E-Book Deal to Settle EU Antitrust ProbePenguin on Friday become the fifth and final publisher to end its e-book pricing pact with Apple in a move that should soon bring an antitrust investigation by the European Union to a close.

In a proposal to the European Commission, Pearson, Penguin’s British media group parent, said it will terminate its “most-favored nation” contract with Apple, scrapping a policy that barred rival retailers from selling e-books at prices lower than those of the iPhone maker.

Penguin’s proposed agreement is essentially identical to the one proffered by Apple, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster last fall. If it’s accepted, it will effectively end the “agency” pricing model Apple used to launch iBooks, one that allowed the publisher, not the retailer, to set prices. It will also bring to an end the EU’s antitrust investigation into the matter. A similar investigation by the U.S. Justice Department continues, however, with Apple its sole remaining target. That case is expected to go to trial in June.

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