European Commission Approves Verizon's Proposed Buyout of Yahoo, Given Their "Moderate Market Positions"

Yahoo! Headquarters Sunnyvale CA Exterior - H 2013
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Yahoo! Headquarters Sunnyvale CA Exterior - H 2013

The European Commission has given the thumbs-up to Verizon's proposed acquisition of beleaguered web portal Yahoo.

Delivered a day ahead of the deadline, the European Union panel on mergers and takeovers said Wednesday that Verizon's purchase of Yahoo "would not raise any competition concerns given the companies' moderate market positions, the limited increments brought by the proposed transaction and the presence of a number of strong players providing such services."

Commissioners also looked at the acquisition's potential impact on competition in Europe's single market, but concerns about potential data concentration were rejected "because a large amount of such user data will continue to be available on the market after the transaction." Verizon already owns AOL, Yahoo's historical rival in digital advertising, content and email.

The EU approval arrives a week after Yahoo announced that an "unauthorized third party" hacked user information from a billion accounts back in 2013. That disclosure came three months after Yahoo acknowledged that in 2014, a half-billion accounts were hacked. Given the seriousness of the breaches, Verizon has signaled that it may renegotiate the $4.8 billion deal it made to acquire Yahoo.

AOL founder Steve Case recently told Fox Business that he believed the deal would go forward, but that he expects Verizon to renegotiate the price. “My guess is that they [Verizon] still would like to go for it, but they are trying to digest this new information and either reprice the deal or potentially walk away from the deal," he said.

Right before the second larger hack was announced, current AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said he was "cautiously optimistic" that the deal would go through.

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