Facebook Gets EU Approval for WhatsApp Acquisition

"It would not hamper competition," a regulator argues

The European Union on Friday approved Facebook's takeover of mobile messaging firm WhatsApp. It had announced the deal for $16 billion earlier in the year.

The agreement also provided for an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp's founders and employees that will vest over four years following the deal close, boosting the deal's price tag to $19 billion.

The largest deal in the social network's history previously got regulatory approval in the U.S. The European Commission, the EU's antitrust authority, argued that the combination wouldn't hurt competition in the space.

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"It would not hamper competition in this dynamic and growing market," European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said. "Consumers will continue to have a wide choice of consumer communications apps."

Some telecom companies had expressed concern about the growing market power of U.S. technology companies. Facebook, led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, will add WhatsApp to its portfolio of communications and other services.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai