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Microsoft offers concessions to win EU approval for $26 billion LinkedIn acquisition

Microsoft tries to win support for LinkedIn acquisition as EU regulators examine data-rich deal.

By Alexander Sword

Microsoft is offering concessions to the European Commission (EC) over the $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn amidst fears that EU regulators could block the deal.

The EC did not provide details of the concessions offered, according to the report in Reuters.

The concessions follow a meeting between the EC and Microsoft executives in November in which concerns were expressed about the deal.

The EC will rule on the deal by December. It is unclear whether Microsoft’s concessions will have been significant enough to allay concerns about the acquisition.

Salesforce, which had been a potential buyer of LinkedIn but lost out to Microsoft, has called on EU regulators to investigate Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn, citing antitrust issues.

The customer relationship management (CRM) vendor’s chief legal officer Burke Nortonsaid that Microsoft’s gaining access to LinkedIn’s data would give Microsoft an unfair competitive advantage.

linkedin-3LinkedIn is a business-focused social network, which allows users to connect with potential professional contacts and search for jobs.

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The buy-out gives Microsoft access to the data of 433 million users, of which 105 million are active every month.

There is also potential to integrate LinkedIn into Microsoft’s suite of enterprise-focused services, which currently includes email, conferencing tool Skype and collaboration tools and software products such as Microsoft Office.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Competition Commissioner, stated on 29 September that the Commission would be looking at whether it needed 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. Vestager said that her team is “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.”

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