Facebook is set to seek antitrust approval from the European Union for its plan to buy WhatsApp Inc., says a person with knowledge of the company’s plans.
According to BusinessWeek, Facebook requested the European Commission look over the antitrust details of the $19 billion deal, said someone who asked to keep their identity unknown because the process isn’t public.
If a company faces a merger review in three EU countries, it can ask the Brussels-based commission to handle the case.
“Depending on where Facebook would have had to file, it may feel safer with dealing with the sophisticated, unbiased” commission merger people, Matthew Hall, a lawyer at McGuire Woods LLP in Brussels, who isn’t involved with the case, said in an e-mail.
This cash-and-stock acquisition would be the largest by Facebook, as they’re known as the biggest social network, and it would also be the most expensive for an Internet company over the the past decade.
The antitrust matters aside, the merger has brought up concerns about privacy as data-protection regulators question how the mobile-messaging startup’s client data will be used.
The European Commission has declined to comment if the deal has been notified to the regulator for approval, also Facebook has declined to make a comment as well.
“Imagine you have to notify in Germany, in France and in Italy,” said Jose Rivas, a lawyer at Bird & Bird in Brussels. “In each country you have to do it in a different language, different procedure, different deadlines and no guarantee of non-contradictory decisions. Because imagine the Germans say ‘yes,’ the French say ‘no’ and the Italians say ‘yes.”
“If you go to Brussels you have one language, one procedure, one deadline, one everything,” Rivas said.
This would be a major acquisition for Facebook, and it will be intriguing to see what transpires because of it.