Facebook asks Europe to give its WhatsApp deal the antitrust once-over

Facebook wants the EC's watchdogs to take a look at the multibillion dollar deal to see if it breaches competition regulations.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor
Image: Shutterstock

It looks as though Facebook's multi-billion-dollar acquisition of WhatsApp could be subject to scrutiny by Europe's competition watchdogs.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Facebook has asked the European Commission to review the deal from an antitrust perspective.

EU member states' competition authorities have been notified of Facebook's request, the WSJ said, which may be an effort by the social networking company to head off separate competition reviews in individual European countries.

Despite pressure from telcos over the acquisition, due to the dominant position it would give Facebook in messaging and the threat it poses to their SMS revenues, it's not certain whether Facebook's request will lead to a full review, the WSJ said. A Europe-wide probe would only come into effect if three countries' regulators decided it warrants a local review.

Facebook and the EC Competition Commission declined to comment on the report.

Announced in February, the $19bn deal is Facebook's biggest acquisition to date and the largest of any tech startup in recent times. Facebook is pitching the takeover as a way to build out its own chat and messaging features.

However, despite likely integration between WhatsApp and Facebook's services, the company has said it intends to run WhatsApp as an independent business.

The US Fair Trade Commission has reportedly already reviewed and cleared the acquisition. However, the FTC issued both companies with a warning last month that they must meet "their obligations to protect the privacy of their users".

According to documents Facebook filed with the SEC, the company expects the deal to close this August.

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