Microsoft and Yahoo! have received unrestricted clearance from the US Department of Justice and the European Commission to proceed with their agreement to create a "unified search marketplace", the companies have announced.

Under the deal, Yahoo!’s algorithmic search and pay per click marketing platforms will transition to Microsoft, with Yahoo! becoming the "exclusive relationship sales force" for both firms’ global premium search advertisers.

In a statement, the corporations said the new model will "deliver improved innovation for customers", while also increasing volume and efficiency for marketers and providing additional monetisation opportunities for publishers by creating a larger pool of search queries.

Microsoft and Yahoo! aim to have all customers and partners transferred to the unified market by early 2012.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, said: "I believe that together, Microsoft and Yahoo! will promote more choice, better value and greater innovation to our customers, as well as to advertisers and publishers."

According to comScore, Microsoft and Yahoo! account for a combined 28.3 per cent of the US search market in January, handling a total of 4.2 billion queries.

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