EU greenlights Microsoft’s $26bn LinkedIn deal

The European Union has officially signed off on Microsoft’s pending $26 billion acquisition of professional networking site LinkedIn after the software giant agreed to comply with antitrust safeguards, it was announced on Tuesday. 

The European Commission gave the deal its blessing on the condition that Microsoft allows rival professional networking sites (there are a few asides from LinkedIn, trust us) to integrate its Office applications and cloud-computing services for at least the next five years. Microsoft also announced that OEMs will have the option of not installing the LinkedIn app. 

EU regulators had expressed anti trust concerns about the deal after Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, who tried and failed to purchase LinkedIn, had pushed for a probe to be opened into the deal. While US authorities quickly approved the deal, the European Union’s leading anti-trust authority, Margrethe Vestager, opened a probe. Vestager is currently in the middle of investigations into several of the world’s leading tech firms, ranging from Apple’s controversial tax dealings in Ireland to three anti-trust actions against Google.

In spite of several concerns about the domination of user information, the commission decided that Microsoft is a “relatively small player” in the CRM market, compared with “clear leader” Salesforce and other players, like Oracle and SAP.

Microsoft made the commitments in light of the commission’s findings. The acquisition is now expected to close in coming days, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal officer, wrote in a company blog post.

The company announced its plans to buy LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in June, making it Microsoft’s biggest ever acuisition. The deal furthers the company’s plan to become a leading provider to businesses of cloud-based services, including Office 365.

Microsoft submitted its LinkedIn acquisition for EU regulatory approval in October, after already receiving approval from authorities in the US, Canada and Brazil.

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