Facebook wins EU approval for WhatsApp acquisition; just a sign of the times

Facebook-whatsapp-logo
After a few months of sleepless nights, Facebook founder and young billionaire Mark Zuckerberg can finally relax a bit. The world’s largest social network will likely receive approval by the European Union for its $19 billion purchase of mobile messaging startup WhatsApp, reports said. Citing two people “familiar with the matter” Reuters revealed on Thursday that the European Commission will likely approve unconditionally the largest purchase in Facebook’s 10-year history, with big surprise of the observers.

Indeed the deal has been fiercely opposed by the Old Continent’s powerful telecom industry, which tried to contrast the acquisition by any means from minute zero. An alleged big threat for the sector would be WhatsApp’s plan to add free voice-call services for its 450+ million customers which just “married” Facebook’s one billion users.
So the sector asked the EU to force Facebook to offer some concession after the merger, which will possibly lower the damage that a growing instant messaging free services would give to traditional messaging service providers.

As we reported in July, an EU investigation was considered seriously overseas and both Facebook and WhatsApp anticipated the risks of Brussels lobbying approaching the European Antitrust Commission asking for a central approval of the WhatsApp acquisition. This happened although the deal had been already cleared by US regulators in May, but many saw the move as a smart attempt to help avoid any possible antitrust investigation from the 28 EU countries.

So the deal got scrutinized. The DG Competition set questionnaires to companies that might have been threatened by this social media deal asking telecom providers whether the deal could have harmed the market somehow. But then good signs for the Facebook/WhatsApp family started to appear. Since the kick-off of the investigation on August 29, the Commission has not called the usual meeting that is normally expected for most mergers in the EU to have the situation screened and analyzed, and this led experts to believe that Facebook’s bid will most likely get green-lighted.

The EU’s review and the whole case is seen as an important test for how to apply and adapt European competition law to the new landscape of social media and messaging. An approval may serve as a benchmark for future acquisitions in the digital world. What is certain for sure is that now regulators in the EU are under increasing pressure to define boundaries and limits for technology giants to ensure fair competition, and most of all for protecting the users’ privacy.

This, as we said more the once, is the big knot and the hottest topic in Brussels when it comes to the citizens’ data protection in the new digital world. Actually what happened in the US was that regulators approved the deal asking WhatsApp to stick to its privacy policy, not using its user data for targeting ads, and many observers expect more or less the same treatment in Europe.

If a data protection policy is fully respected, I don’t really see how Facebook merger with WhatsApp could harm the telecom market. I mean, to harm it more than WhatsApp alone, or its rivals such as KakaoTalk, China’s WeChat and Viber are already doing. It’s obvious that telecom operators are losing share, but I also guess this is happening since years, since instant messages free services entered the market.

This is happening since the end of telecom operators’ golden era, yes, the times when consumers of some EU markets were paying up to 2 Euro on a 10 Euro charge card just for the “activation” (remember that?). No news now, it’s just another change in the market, like it is happening for many other sectors, press included, where consumers changed their ways of getting informed.

The European Union competition authority’s final decision is expected to come on October 3, and I am pretty sure you will get the news first from a social network than from a newspaper.

Follow @carlomotta_ on Twitter

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Matthias in Canada

Worldwide consumer confidence has shot up to its highest level for four years according to a survey of 130 Global Retail leaders

What can stop the ‘too big to fail’ bankers from terrorising the world?

Intergenerational, intercultural, interactive – The 2015 edition of JADE’s Generations Club: Transforming Europe into an entrepreneurial society

EU Commission expects consumer spending to unlock growth

MWC 2016 LIVE: Industry looks to reduce mobile gender gap

The EU risks trade relations with China over the Tata hype about steel

EU Parliament shows its teeth in view of 2014 elections

Investing in working conditions and quality jobs

EU Parliament and Council: Close to agreement on the bank resolution mechanism

Currency Union might not let an independent Scotland join the EU as the “Yes” front now leads

Eurozone: Black economy loves the South

Digital business is Europe’s best hope to get back to growth

Ukraine: turning challenges into opportunities


Berlin wants to break South’s politico-economic standing

After swallowing effortlessly the right to be forgotten time for Google Ads now to behave

A new way to teach active citizenship to students?

Sponsored content: when QUALITY meets OPEX in manufacturing

The US and EU decisively oppose Erdogan’s plans for Turkey and beyond

Brexit uncertainty keeps shaking the world’s financial markets

New skills needed for medical students in Industry 4.0

Commission: New proposal for centrally managed bank resolution

An American duel in Brussels: Salesforce against Microsoft over Linkedin deal

Is there a cure for corruption in Greece?

“Airbnb and YouTube are two great examples of a crowd based capitalism”, key stakeholders outline the boundaries of the 4th Industrial Revolution in Davos

TTIP fight round 6: last chance for the negotiators to finally open up as they touch the Brussels ring

Is Eurozone heading towards a long stagnation?

German opposition win in Lower Saxony felt all over Europe

Cyprus tragedy reveals Eurozone’s arbitrary functioning

The European Sting at the Retail Forum for Sustainability live from Barcelona

A new world that demands new doctors in the fourth industrial revolution

The consequences of Brexit seen by a European young entrepreneur

World Retail Congress Dubai 2016: Retail’s night of nights

Why Obama asks approval from Congress to bomb Syria?

Merkel had it her way with the refugees & immigrants but can Greece and Turkey deliver?

It’s not summer holidays what lead to the bad August of the German economy

The EU Commission is lying to the “Right2Water” campaign

The ECB accuses the politicians of inaction, continues injecting billions to banks

China, forever new adventures

Everybody against Germany over the expensive euro

For the future of Europe youth remains a priority

The US bugged Europe: Is this news?

The Commission accused of tolerating corruption and fraud in taxation

Turkey caught in a vicious Syrian circle bringing terror and war at home

ECB asks for more subsidies to banks

Can the EU last long if it cuts Cyprus out?

EU tourism industry expects a new record year in 2014

Could entrepreneurship be the real cure against the side effects of Brexit?

The EU Parliament blasts the Council about the tax dealings of the wealthy

EU plans to exploit the Mediterranean Sea and the wealth beneath it

Ukraine turns again to the EU for more money

European Youth Forum welcomes adoption of Sustainable Development Goals and calls on European countries to not ignore them!

EU officially launches its first naval mission against migrant smugglers

The EU slowly exits from “Excessive Deficit Procedure” and hopefully from ‘Excessive Austerity Procedure’ too

Eurozone: Inflation plunge to 0.4% in July may trigger cataclysmic developments

EU prepares a banking union amidst financial ruins

EU-US resume trade negotiations under the spell of NSA surveillance

Where is heading Putin’s Russia?

Benjamin Franklin was wrong: Amazon can tax evade

Eurozone recession subsides

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s