Apple (AAPL) and four major publishers will allow retailers such as Amazon to sell e-books at a discount for two years in a bid to end an EU antitrust investigation and stave off possible fines, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The EU antitrust watchdog opened an investigation into Apple's e-book pricing deals with the publishers last December, saying these may hamper competition in Europe.

The four publishers are Simon & Schuster, News Corp unit HarperCollins, French group Lagardere SCA's Hachette Livre and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, which owns Macmillan in Germany.

The publishers have agreed deals with Apple under which online versions of their books sell for set prices on Apple's iTunes, with Apple taking 30 percent of the proceeds. The deals specified that other retailers, such as Amazon, could not sell the e-books at a lower price.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)