Salesforce Encourages Regulators Examine Microsoft’s LinkedIn Buyout Offer

linkeinEarlier this year, Salesforce had declared its plans to acquire LinkedIn but Microsoft swooped in with an agreement to pay $26.2 billion for the network, in July. This, of course, put a stop to Salesforce’s plans, at least for the time being; and perhaps the company used that time to formulate a new plan.

And that plan is now to request regulators in both the United States and Europe investigate the deal. Salesforce cites concerns over antitrust issues as the basis for the probe, according to Chief Legal Officer Burke Norton. The deal has already been approved for closing in the United States and Canada, as well as in Brazil.

The acquisition, after all, is Microsoft’s largest ever, and has already been cleared by U.S. Regulators. It has not yet, however, been cleared for approval in the European Union. Furthermore, the commission is already looking for more information from rivals, which is a common step in the reviewing process to examine such large-scale implications.

“Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of LinkedIn threatens the future of innovation and competition,” Norton explains. “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.”

Norton goes on to argue, “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.”

However, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has expressed great concern over control of data, in this way, could stifle competition. Thus, in the review, she says regulators will look more closely at whether “the data purchased in the deal has a very long durability and might constitute a barrier for others, or if they can be replicated so that others stand a chance to enter the market. We’ve done that kind of analysis in the past and it’s something we’re generally paying a lot of attention to.”

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