Facebook Requests European Anti-Trust Review of WhatsApp Deal (Report)

6:12 AM PST 05/28/2014 by Scott Roxborough
Mark Zuckerberg

The move could prevent the $19 billion deal, already approved in the U.S., from being blocked by individual national anti-trust efforts in Europe.

Facebook has reportedly approached European anti-trust watchdogs and requested a review of its $19 billion deal to acquire short messaging service WhatsApp. The request, reported by the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, could lead to an official European-wide investigation of the agreement and its impact on competition in the new media space.

Such an investigation could actually benefit Facebook if it means its WhatsApp takeover does not face a series of national anti-trust challenges from individual European countries. The $19 billion deal, already approved in the U.S., could be delayed or even suspended in certain territories if national watchdogs oppose it. Facebook may also view the European Commission, the European Union, central anti-trust authority, as less susceptible to influence from national telecommunications companies and other lobby groups which are against the deal. The European Commission on Wednesday declined comment.

STORY: Facebook to Pay $16 Billion for Messaging Service WhatsApp

Europe's national and pan-European regulators are known for being more aggressive towards big media mergers and have recently targeted tech companies for policies established and legal in the U.S.

Several top tech firms, including Facebook, are under investigation in France for their tax policies. Europe's top court ruled earlier this month that Google users in Europe have a “right to be forgotten” - to have links to web pages about them removed from Google's results if they are "irrelevant" and an infringement on privacy. And there have been reports of pushback against a recent anti-trust settlement between the EU and Google over its search engine, with some European politicians advocating breaking up the U.S. giant to facilitate more local competition.

 

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