Out-Law News 1 min. read

Microsoft's commitments satisfy EU regulator's concerns about proposed LinkedIn acquisition

Measures outlined by Microsoft to alleviate concerns that its planned acquisition of LinkedIn would harm competition in the market for professional social networks have been accepted by the EU's foremost competition authority.

The European Commission said that it will clear Microsoft to complete its acquisition of LinkedIn if it complies with the conditions it has set.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's chief legal officer, said the company expects to complete its acquisition of LinkedIn "in the coming days", having "obtained all of the regulatory approvals needed" to complete the deal. The reported $26.2 billion deal  has already been approved by competition authorities in the US, Canada and Brazil.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "A growing number of Europeans subscribe to professional social networks. These networks are important for professionals to connect and interact and to find new career opportunities. Today's decision ensures that Europeans will continue to enjoy a freedom of choice between professional social networks."

Under the commitments made by Microsoft, the computing giant must not require PC manufacturers and distributors to install LinkedIn on its Windows operating system. If LinkedIn is pre-installed by those businesses, then Microsoft must allow users to remove it.

In addition, Microsoft must allow rival professional social networks to build tools that work with Microsoft products in the same way they can at the moment, the Commission said. This means "allowing competing professional social network service providers to maintain current levels of interoperability with Microsoft's Office suite of products through the so-called Office add-in program and Office application programming interfaces", the Commission said in a statement.

Microsoft must also let rival professional social network service providers use its 'Microsoft Graph' service. The service allows software developers to build applications which can glean data that could help professional social networks market their services to potential new users, the Commission said.

The EU regulator's conditions must be complied with for five years. Microsoft's compliance with those measures will be monitored by a trustee.

"With this regulatory process behind us, we can bring together two great companies and focus on even broader issues for the future," Microsoft's Brad Smith said. "While technology tools are not a panacea for current economic challenges, we believe they can make an important contribution."

"Microsoft and LinkedIn together have a bigger opportunity to help people online to develop and earn credentials for new skills, identify and pursue new jobs, and become more creative and productive as they work with their colleagues. Working together we can do more to serve not only those with college degrees, but the many people pursuing new experiences, skills and credentials related to vocational training and so-called middle skills. Our ambition is to do our part to create more opportunity for people who haven’t shared in recent economic growth," he said.

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