November 16, 2016
(Bloomberg) — Microsoft Corp. submitted concessions to European Union antitrust officials examining its takeover of professional social network LinkedIn Corp., which may allow the deal to win early-stage approval.
EU spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said regulators extended their deadline to rule on the deal to Dec. 6. The office software giant had until Nov. 15 to submit so-called remedies to the EU’s merger watchdog to allay any potential competition concerns. The EU didn’t provide further details and Microsoft representatives declined to comment.
Concessions made in the early stage of the EU’s review, including asset sales, can help regulators approve a deal without opening an investigation of at least four months. Microsoft and LinkedIn have said they plan to close the deal this year.
Salesforce.com Inc., which was outbid by Microsoft’s $26.2 billion offer for LinkedIn, has urged the EU to take a closer look at the deal. Microsoft’s control of LinkedIn’s “unique dataset” of professionals may allow it cut off rivals’ access to that data, the company said. The EU was also looking at whether artificial intelligence could allow Microsoft reap key insights from LinkedIn data that would aid sales of its other products.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has voiced concerns about how technology companies’ control of data might strangle competition. In the Microsoft-LinkedIn review, regulators would look 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,” Vestager said in June. “We’ve done that kind of analysis in the past and it’s something we’re generally paying a lot of attention to.”
Microsoft escaped extended EU merger probes when it bought Nokia’s handset unit and videoconferencing service Skype.
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