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Microsoft Clears Final Regulatory Hurdle in LinkedIn Deal

The European Union's approval of Microsoft's $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn clears the final regulatory holdup, allowing the deal to close in the coming days.

If there was any potential for Microsoft to miss its target of closing its $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, announced in June, the European Union yesterday put that to rest by approving the deal, which is now set to close in the coming days.

The approval dashes the last hope by those objecting to the deal -- notably CEO Marc Benioff, who filed objections with both the U.S. regulators and subsequently with the EU. Benioff, who was outbid by Microsoft in an attempt to acquire LinkedIn, raised concerns that Microsoft would lock out rival social networking service using its large Office and Windows market share.

Before clearing the deal, the EU last month sought some concessions from Microsoft, which had reportedly offered compromises. Microsoft President Brad Smith outlined the key commitments it will maintain for at least five years. Among them Microsoft will:

  • Continue to make its Office add-in program available to third-party professional social networking providers, which will let developers integrate those services into Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
  • Maintain programs that allow third-party social networking providers to promote their services in the Office Store.
  • Allow IT pros, admins and users to customize their Office configurations by letting them choose whether to display the LinkedIn profile and activity information in the user interface when Microsoft provides those future integrations as is anticipated.
  • Ensure PC manufacturers aren't required to install new LinkedIn apps or tiles in the European Economic Area (EEA). Likewise, Microsoft is promising not to hinder users from uninstalling the apps and tiles. Microsoft also said it won't use Windows itself to prompt users to install a LinkedIn app, though it'll remain in the Windows Store and customers may be promoted in other ways to use it.

In the EEA, Smith also said that Microsoft has agreed not to form agreements with PC makers to pre-install LinkedIn exclusively, thereby blocking competitors. "We appreciated the opportunity to talk through these and other details in a creative and constructive way with the European Commission," Smith noted in yesterday's post. Having cleared approval in Europe, Smith said Microsoft is ready to move forward.

"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," Smith noted. "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."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 12/07/2016 at 10:45 AM


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