SOFTWARE HOUSE Microsoft is set to win European Union (EU) approval for its acquisition of voice over IP (VoIP) service Skype, clearing the last major hurdle facing the deal.
EU competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia will give the buyout the green light in Europe, according to the Financial Times.
The European Commission will allow Microsoft to proceed with its $8.5bn acquisition of Skype without requiring a second phase of investigation, which could have delayed the deal well into next year.
Some feared that a Microsoft buyout would have a negative impact on the market, with the potential for the company to limit Skype to Windows only machines, but Microsoft assured the Commission that it will make the software available for multiple operating systems, including Apple's IOS, Linux and Google's Android.
Other complaints centred around the idea of Microsoft bundling Skype with Windows in the first place, which some argued was a replay of old tactics it employed with software like Internet Explorer that the Commission eventually prohibitted. Microsoft is not the same kind of company it was then, however, and it faces much larger and more powerful rivals now, which likely affected the Commission's decision to give the go-ahead.
Microsoft gained approval for the deal in the US by the Federal Trade Commission in June, leaving Europe as the primary obstacle and medium through which objectors to the deal could lodge complaints.
There are also competition reviews underway in Russia, the Ukraine, Serbia and Taiwan, which could affect the buyout, but they will have significantly less impact than further delays in the US or EU, or, if all went badly, a ban on the deal altogether. Approval in the US and EU will likely set a precedent and provide some momentum for similar approvals in these other regions. µ
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