Facebook Seeks EC Review Of WhatsApp Deal, Rather Than Facing Probes In Several Countries

By David Cohen 

EuropeanUnionFlags650Hoping to avoid dealing with antitrust investigations by several countries in the European Union regarding its $19 billion acquisition of cross-platform messaging application WhatsApp, Facebook requested that the EU’s central antitrust authority, the European Commission, conduct a review of the transaction, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the Journal, Facebook expressed concerns that EU nations including the U.K., Spain, and Cyprus were exploring investigations of the WhatsApp deal, and if there are no objections from national competition authorities, the EC will conduct a review.

The Journal pointed out that Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp does not appear to be required under EU regulations, but the social network might receive a more neutral result in Brussels than it would from the competition agencies of individual countries, which might face pressure from their national telecommunications companies.

Brussels-based Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton Antitrust Lawyer Thomas Graf told the Journal:

Facebook might prefer to go to the commission than go before several national regulators, which would each ask it for information.

And Yvan Desmedt, an antitrust lawyer with Jones Day in Brussels, told the newspaper:

Defining and assessing competition in new technology markets is much more difficult than in established markets. That means it’s more difficult for the commission to block or impose conditions on deals in those markets.

Readers: Was approaching the EU a smart move by Facebook?

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