EU clears Facebook's $19 bn buyout of WhatsApp

October 3, 2014
European Union regulators have cleared the buyout of the WhatsApp mobile messaging service by Facebook, despite opposition by telecom companies

European Union regulators on Friday cleared the buyout of the WhatsApp mobile messaging service by Facebook, despite opposition by telecom companies afraid of the growing power of US technology giants.

In a statement explaining its approval of the $19-billon (15-billion-euro) deal, the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said Facebook and WhatsApp were "not close competitors" and that consumers would continue to have a "wide array of choices".

"We have carefully reviewed this proposed acquisition and come to the conclusion that it would not hamper competition in this dynamic and growing market," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

Facebook, the world's biggest social network, announced the buyout of the WhatsApp messenger service, used by 600 million people, in February and US authorities approved the deal in April.

The European Commission only automatically reviews deals where each company involved has sales of over 100 million euros across at least three EU states, which was not the case for this deal.

But the powerful European telecom lobby had argued that Facebook and Whatsapp together would have access to an unfair stock of and gain an unfair competition advantage in the crucial data and consumer habit market used by advertisers.

But the Commission turned down this argument concluding that, regardless of whether Facebook would start collecting WhatsApp user data, "the transaction would not raise competition concerns".

A fisheye lens shows a man walking past a logo created from pictures of Facebook users worldwide in the company's Data Center in Lulea, in Swedish Lapland on November 7, 2013

After the merger, "a large amount of Internet user data that are valuable for advertising purposes are not within Facebook's exclusive control," the commission said.

The decision comes as US Internet giant Google faces intense scrutiny from the Commission over accusations of unfair advantages the search engine gives its own services in search results.

Explore further: Groups seek privacy review of Facebook-WhatsApp tie-up

Related Stories

Google's EU antitrust woes extended (Update)

September 9, 2014

The European Union's competition authority has rejected yet another offer from Google to settle a case that claims the company abuses its dominant position in Internet searches, once again extending the four-year-old anti-trust ...

Google to face charges if it fails to improve settlement: EU

September 23, 2014

US Internet giant Google will face formal charges if it fails to improve its proposals to the European Union to resolve anti-trust complaints over its search engine, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Researchers 3-D print electronics and cells directly on skin

April 25, 2018

In a groundbreaking new study, researchers at the University of Minnesota used a customized, low-cost 3D printer to print electronics on a real hand for the first time. The technology could be used by soldiers on the battlefield ...

Balancing nuclear and renewable energy

April 25, 2018

Nuclear power plants typically run either at full capacity or not at all. Yet the plants have the technical ability to adjust to the changing demand for power and thus better accommodate sources of renewable energy such as ...

Electrode shape improves neurostimulation for small targets

April 24, 2018

A cross-like shape helps the electrodes of implantable neurostimulation devices to deliver more charge to specific areas of the nervous system, possibly prolonging device life span, says research published in March in Scientific ...

China auto show highlights industry's electric ambitions

April 22, 2018

The biggest global auto show of the year showcases China's ambitions to become a leader in electric cars and the industry's multibillion-dollar scramble to roll out models that appeal to price-conscious but demanding Chinese ...

After Facebook scrutiny, is Google next?

April 21, 2018

Facebook has taken the lion's share of scrutiny from Congress and the media about data-handling practices that allow savvy marketers and political agents to target specific audiences, but it's far from alone. YouTube, Google ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.