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May 28, 2014

Why Facebook is asking Europe to investigate its WhatsApp buyout

The deal was cleared in the United States last month by the Federal Trade Commission.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

Facebook has asked the European Commission to investigate its $19bn takeover of instant messaging service WhatsApp in efforts to avoid multiple investigations from different European countries.

The social network site has voluntarily submitted a request to the EU’s central antitrust authority to avoid further reviews from both National and European regulators at a later stage.

Thomas Graf, an antitrust lawyer with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in Brussels, said: "Facebook might prefer to go to the commission than go before several national regulators, which would each ask it for information."

The deal, which was cleared by the Federal Trade Commission in the US last month, is Facebook’s biggest date and the largest of any tech startup in recent times.

The move comes amid a rising pressure from European telecoms companies as they believe it will give Facebook too strong a grasp on instant messaging, which provides a cheap or often free alternative to SMS text messages and MMS picture messages.

Both Facebook and the European Commission were not immediately available to comment on the report.

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