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EU: No easy pass for Facebook, WhatApp merger

 |  July 10, 2014

While US authorities cleared Facebook’s $19 billion buyout of messenger application WhatsApp with few concessions, Facebook will reportedly not face the same easy merger review in the EU.

The European Commission is said to be conducting a probe of the acquisition. Part of that investigation, unnamed sources say, involves authorities requesting information regarding the deal from Facebook rivals.

The Commission has reportedly sent out a questionnaire to competitors in recent weeks to gain input on the matter.

Reports say the questionnaires not only inquire about potential anticompetitive effects of the transaction on existing markets, but ask about how the companies use and control personal data collected by their services.

Reports say this is a relatively new area of merger reviews.

Facebook’s buyout of WhatsApp was cleared by the US Federal Trade Commission on the condition that the companies protect the privacy of consumer information collected by the application users. Facebook was required to maintain WhatsApp privacy promises to its users.

One antitrust lawyer in Brussels, who was unnamed, told the Wall Street Journal that the merger review “is the first time [the European Commission will] look at social media seriously in terms of market power issues.”

Separate reports quoted another unnamed source familiar with the case as describing Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp as a deal “like AT&T merging with Verizon.”

According to reports, nearly 75 percent of Android users in the UK used the Facebook application in April; more than half of those users also used WhatsApp.

Full content: Auto World News

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