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Report says France issues US$1.3 bil. claim against Google over media sites

PARIS -- French tax authorities have made a billion-euro (US$1.3 billion) claim against Google to pressure the U.S. Internet giant to compromise in a dispute over compensation to media websites, a French newspaper reported.

The weekly Canard Enchaine said in its edition to hit news stands on Wednesday that the tax claim concerns the transfer prices set between Google's Irish holding company and the French unit for four tax years, without disclosing its sources.

French tax authorities told AFP they do not comment on specific cases due to taxpayer privacy. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The weekly said the tax claim was brought up during Monday's meeting between President Francois Hollande and Google chief Eric Schmidt, and that it was a bargaining chip in the dispute with French media.

Hollande said the French government would adopt a law if necessary to settle a dispute with French media websites, which want the search engine to hand over a percentage of the advertising revenue it earns from directing users to their content.

“If the negotiations between Google and the media publishers don't result in a deal by the end of the year, Google already knows what awaits it from a tax point of view: one billion,” said the weekly.

“Otherwise, there will no doubt be room to negotiate.”

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