Salesforce says Microsoft-LinkedIn deal threatens future innovation, will work with regulators to oppose deal

Salesforce believes Microsoft's proposed acquisition of LinkedIn is anticompetitive and will work with regulators to make the case, Salesforce's chief legal officer confirmed to ZDNet.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
Image: Salesforce.com

Salesforce is urging the European Union to oppose Microsoft's $26.2 billion proposed acquisition of LinkedIn, as it believes the merger is anticompetitive and offers Microsoft an unfair advantage, Salesforce told ZDnet on Thursday.

Burke Norton, chief legal officer of Salesforce, told ZDNet the company will make the case that Microsoft's proposed merger is anticompetitive to regulators globally:

Microsoft's proposed acquisition of LinkedIn threatens the future of innovation and competition. By gaining ownership of LinkedIn's unique dataset of over 450 million professionals in more than 200 countries, Microsoft will be able to deny competitors access to that data, and in doing so obtain an unfair competitive advantage. Salesforce believes this raises significant antitrust and data privacy issues that need to be fully scrutinized by competition and data privacy authorities in the United States and in the European Union. We intend to work closely with regulators, lawmakers and other stakeholders to make the case that this merger is anticompetitive.

The New York Times first reported Salesforce would oppose the deal. In a routine move, European antitrust officials are already soliciting information from rivals, where Salesforce could be vocal in an attempt to delay or stop the deal.

Bloomberg reported the deal has not been submitted by Microsoft to the European Union for regulatory approval. Microsoft is said to do this by November.

Even though it's being vocal with opposition, Salesforce wouldn't mind to be in Microsoft's shoes. Salesforce is said to have bid more than Microsoft did for LinkedIn, but Microsoft's all-cash bid triumphed in the end.

"Salesforce may not be aware, but the deal has already been cleared to close in the US, Canada, and Brazil," Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, told ZDNet in a statement. "We're committed to continuing to work to bring price competition to a CRM market in which Salesforce is the dominant participant charging customers higher prices today."

Salesforce's outspoken CEO, Marc Benioff, threw shade at the deal in a tweet on Thursday.

A representative from Microsoft was not immediately available for comment.

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