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Microsoft sweet-talks EC antitrust bods over LinkedIn buy

Massive $26bn bid may go ahead – but we won't know why

Microsoft has offered "concessions" in return for letting its $26bn dollar acquisition of LinkedIn move ahead, according to officials from the European Commission.

The officials refused to provide any further details over what those concessions were, however.

The Commission is expected to decide whether to let the purchase of the social media giant move ahead at the start of December. Last week, it leaked that EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has raised doubts over the deal at a meeting with Microsoft executives.

Vestager had previously expressed concern with the deal, publicly pondering whether it was solely over the valuable data that LinkedIn possesses. Her skepticism was encouraged by a number of potential rivals, most notably Salesforce, which wrote to the EC asking it to dig into the deal.

Back in September, Salesforce's top lawyer argued that "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."

As a result, the purchase 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," said chief legal officer Burke Norton. It is worth noting that Salesforce also tried to buy LinkedIn, but was outbid by Microsoft.

Vestager has repeatedly expressed worries over the sale and use of data and has urged individuals to think about how much data they share through third-party companies. She also spoke about whether data can be duplicated and whether possession of a huge amount of data by one company acted as a competitive barrier to other companies.

It's unclear what kind of concessions Microsoft would have offered to offset these concerns, but the proposal will go to the EC on December 6, when it will have to decide whether to open a full investigation into the issue, ask for more information, or let the deal pass. ®


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