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Canadian agency expects lower e-book prices after publishers deal

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's business competition watchdog said on Friday it has reached an agreement with four major e-book publishers that it expects will lower e-book prices in the country.

The Competition Bureau said the publishers have agreed to remove or amend clauses in their distribution agreements with individual e-book retailers that had the effect of restricting retail price competition.

The four publishers that have agreed to the deal include Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group Inc; News Corp's HarperCollins Publishers LLC; CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster Inc, and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH's Macmillan.

The regulatory agency noted that similar settlements between publishers and regulators in the United States in the last two years have resulted in greater discounting of best-selling e-books there.

Last year, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Apple Inc had conspired with five major publishers to raise e-book prices. The ruling was a victory for the U.S. Department of Justice, which accused Apple of conspiring to erode Amazon.com's e-book dominance.

Apple has appealed the ruling, while the publishers settled ahead of the trial.

The Competition Bureau said the deal with the publishers was reached after an 18-month investigation into the e-book industry in Canada and that the probe is ongoing.

(Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Amanda Kwan)

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