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Penguin hopes to appease EU regulators by ending e-book deal with Apple

The nearly year and a half-long ebook antitrust investigation involving Apple and a handful of large publishers appears near an end, as Pearson's Penguin unit has offered to the European Commission to end the deals it made with Apple over ebook prices.

Penguin has offered to end "most-favored nation" — which kept rival booksellers from selling ebooks at a lower price point than Apple — for five years, according to Reuters. The agreement will also allow retailers to set prices and discounts for two years, as is the case with the other publishers that have settled with the Commission.

Penguin is the last publisher still negotiating with the Commission, as Apple and the other accused publishers reached a settlement in December.

In December of 2011, the Commission began looking into allegations of illegal agreements between Apple, Hachette Livre, Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck. Apple, initially, was reluctant to settle, but the iBook seller eventually softened its stance.

The ending of the "agency model" pricing — in which the publishers set a price for content and allow companies serving the content to take a cut of the sales — will likely most benefit ebook giant Amazon, which prefers the "wholesale model." Under that model, publishers suggest a price and booksellers are free to set their own prices and offer their own discounts.

None of the parties involved in the investigation have been named guilty of any wrongdoing, and the Commission has assessed no fines. Interested parties will have one month to comment on Penguin's proposals before the Commission renders a decision.