Microsoft is seeking approval from the EU for its $26 billion takeover of LinkedIn, with EU antitrust approval one of the last obstacles following approval from regulators in the US, Canada and Brazil.
According to reports from Reuters, a spokesperson said that Microsoft had filed its case with the EU on Friday 14 October. This now kicks off a month–long review by the regulators with the European Commission having set a November 22 deadline to examine the case. The EU competitor authority can take two courses of action over the Microsoft-LinkedIn deal – either approves the deal with or without concessions or opens an investigation if it has concerns.
Salesforce, who lost in its LinkedIn bid to Microsoft, has already called on EU regulators to investigate Microsoft’s acquisition of the social media giant, citing antitrust issues. Burke Norton, Salesforce’s chief legal officer, said that Microsoft’s gaining access to LinkedIn’s data would give Microsoft an “unfair competitive advantage”.
“Salesforce believes this raises significant antitrust and data privacy issues that need to be fully scrutinised by competition and data privacy authorities in the United States and in the European Union,” Norton said, according to a Bloomberg report.
Microsoft responded to the accusations, with its chief legal officer Brad Smith saying: “Salesforce may not be aware, but the deal has already been cleared to close in the United States, Canada, and Brazil.
“We’re committed to continuing to work to bring price competition to a CRM market in which Salesforce is the dominant participant charging customers higher prices today.”
The acquisition of LinkedIn will give Microsoft access to the data of its 433m users, of which 105m are active each month.
However, the amount of data at stake with the deal may draw the attention of Margrethe Vestager, the European Competition Commissioner, who recently stated that she would be looking at whether the EU needs to more closely examine deals involving large amounts of data.
She said that “companies need to make sure they don’t use data in a way that stops others competing”, but said that holding a large amount of data is not necessarily a problem.
She said that her team was “exploring whether we need to start looking at mergers with valuable data involved, even though the company that owns it doesn’t have a large turnover.”