Cisco asks European regulators to impose conditions on Microsoft-Skype

Cisco is asking EU antitrust authorities to impose interoperability guarantees on Microsoft around its coming Skype technologies and integrations.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft rival Cisco is asking European antitrust regulators to impose conditions on Microsoft regarding its Skype acquisition on February 15, four months after the European Commission approved the $8.5 billion Microsoft acquisition of Skype.

Cisco made the case for interoperability requirements in a February 15 post on the Cisco Corporate blog. According to the Cisco post, a European ISP, Messagenet, has joined with Cisco in its appeal to the EC authorities.

Though a headline on AllThingsD -- "Cisco Appeals Europe’s Approval of Microsoft’s $8.5 Billion Skype Acquisition" -- at first made me think Cisco was asking the EC to rethink its approval, the story makes the point that this isn't the case. Cisco is instead focusing on the "without conditions" part of the EC approval of the merger.

From the AllThingsD story:

"Cisco doesn’t want the merger rescinded, but rather wants the EC to impose some interoperability conditions on Microsoft. Part of Microsoft’s plan with Skype has been to combine it with its Lync video and voice calling software for businesses. Both Lynch and Skype use their own proprietary calling technologies and so aren’t compatible with other video and calling services."

EU regulatory clearance of the Microsoft-Skype deal was announced in October 2011 — just a couple of weeks after an Italian Skype rival raised concerns over Microsoft’s bundling plans for the technology. U.S. antitrust authorities  granted their approval of Microsoft’s Skype buy in June, 2011. Microsoft took over the operation of Skype in October 2011.

Microsoft is expected to launch a Skype app for Windows Phone in the early part of this year, possibly at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona at the end of this month. Lync-Skype integration is also in the works, as is Xbox Live-Skype integration, Microsoft officials have said.

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson sent the following statement regarding Cisco's action today:

“The European Commission conducted a thorough investigation of the acquisition, in which Cisco actively participated, and approved the deal in a 36-page decision without any conditions.  We’re confident the Commission’s decision will stand up on appeal.”

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