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Microsoft promises 'equal access' to LinkedIn to get EC green light for acquisition

Tales from the antitrust crypt

Microsoft is offering to crack open access to LinkedIn to secure European Commission approval for its $26bn purchase of the social network for suits.

The software giant is reportedly offering competition regulators the continued prospect of open access to LinkedIn’s APIs as well as “allowing” OEMs to install LinkedIn on their devices in addition to social networks from rivals.

LinkedIn would be Microsoft's largest ever corporate purchase by price.

Reuters reported that Microsoft’s proposed LinkedIn terms are intended to show Microsoft would not favour LinkedIn at the expense of rivals.

A Commission spokesperson told The Reg: “The Commission can confirm that remedies were received in this case. The updated deadline for the Commission to take a decision is 6 December."

Microsoft did not offer comment.

The existence of Microsoft’s concessions to the Commission was revealed earlier this month, but until now, details were non-existent.

LinkedIn bidder Salesforce raised its objections to Microsoft’s LinkedIn gulp, saying the fact Microsoft would swallow the data of 450 million people in 200 countries, giving Microsoft a unique and “unfair” advantage over rivals.

Chief legal officer Burke Norton had said the deal presented “significant antitrust and data privacy issues” as a result.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has expressed her concern about the sale and use of people’s data.

If it goes ahead, the terms of Microsoft’s deal are straight from the history of the company’s antitrust-settlement playbook established in cases of bundling Internet Explorer and Windows and on server software.

Settlements from those deals also saw Microsoft “letting” PC makers install rival’s browsers on their systems in addition to Internet Explorer.

At the time, Microsoft promised to share access to its Windows APIs. ®


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