Microsoft to get EU regulatory clearance for LinkedIn buyout: sources

REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU antitrust regulators are set to give conditional clearance to Microsoft’s $26 billion takeover of professional social network LinkedIn, three people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

As part of the EU approval, the US software company will make some minor changes to concessions submitted last week following feedback from rivals and customers, the people said.

The deal, Microsoft’s largest ever acquisition, will allow the company to add a suite of sales, marketing and recruiting services to its core business products as it gears up for next-generation computing.

Reuters reported Tuesday that Microsoft had submitted LinkedIn concessions to the European Commission last week, saying it would still allow LinkedIn‘s rivals access to its software and give hardware makers the option of installing other services, according to people familiar with the matter.

The EU competition enforcer expressed concerns about the $26 billion deal, Microsoft’s biggest ever acquisition. The offer aimed to show that the company will not favour LinkedIn at the expense of rivals, the people said, a key concern for regulators.

Professional social networks which have access to Microsoft’s API would continue to have this facility once LinkedIn becomes part of the company, the people said.

The other key element of the company’s concessions was the option for computer hardware makers to install either LinkedIn or rival networks on computers, indicating that the company is keen to avoid any suggestion of packaging products to crush competitors.

Microsoft’s website shows it has software deals with hardware makers such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer and Huawei, among others.

The Commission has fined Microsoft more than 2.2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) over the past decade for various infringements, one of them being the tying of some products to its Windows operating system to stifle competition.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Robin Emmott and Alexander Smith)

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