European Commission approves Microsoft plan to buy Skype after competition inquiry

The European Commission (EC) has cleared Microsoft's plans to acquire Skype under the EU Merger Regulation, saying: "The deal would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA)."

The European Commission has approved Microsoft's $8.5bn acquisition of Skype.

Microsoft secured approval to buy Skype from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in June 2011, after announcing plans to buy internet telephony firm the month before. However, the European Commission (EC) opened an investigation after claims the Microsoft deal was anti-competitive.

The EC said it had cleared the acquisition under the EU Merger Regulation, saying: "The deal would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA)."

The EC added that there were no competition concerns for the video communications market, which has numerous players, such as Google.

"For enterprise communications, the investigation confirmed that Skype has a limited market presence for these products and does not compete directly with Microsoft's enterprise communication product Lync, which is used mostly by large enterprises," added the statement.

Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice-president at Microsoft, said:"This is an important milestone, as we've now received clearance from both the United States and the European Union. We look forward to completing soon the final steps needed to close the acquisition, bringing together the employees of Microsoft and Skype, and creating new opportunities for people to communicate and collaborate around the world."

Microsoft plans to use Skype to provide Skype support for its Xbox, Kinect and Windows Phone devices. Microsoft said it will connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities, as well as investing in Skype on non-Microsoft platforms.


Read Computer Weekly's analysis of what Microsoft's Skype acquisition means for business >>

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