Probe LinkedIn and Microsoft antitrust issues, Salesforce begs EU

Earlier in June, Microsoft bought LinkedIn for a reported $26.2 billion, reasserting itself as one of the biggest players in the world’s technology market. The business deal between these two companies in different sectors was one of the smartest mergers today.

Image shows Jeff Weiner, chief of LinkedIn, left, Satya Nadella, chief of Microsoft, and Reid Hoffman, executive chairman of LinkedIn during a dinner meeting where they discussed details of how the LinkedIn-Microsoft deal would work, earlier this year.

While Microsoft is a popular software tools maker, LinkedIn has been the largest business-oriented social networking site with hundreds of millions as registered members globally.

“This deal is all about bringing together the professional cloud and professional network,” NY Post quoted Mr. Nadella as saying in a telephone interview at that time.

Though the acquisition has been proceeding smoothly, a recent report from Reuters say Salesforce, a U.S. software company, has beckoned on the European Union (EU) “to investigate antitrust issues related to Microsoft’s $26 billion bid for social network LinkedIn”.


The business deal which is Microsoft’s biggest ever is expected to be completed by the end of this year but this could be their one last huddle.

As the software company is seeking EU’s antitrust approval on the merger, Salesforce, which lost out in their bid for LinkedIn has asked authorities in the sector to conduct a thorough review on the take-over deal.

Salesforce claims the acquisition poses a threat on innovation and competition.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 14: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff speaks during the 2014 DreamForce conference on October 14, 2014 in San Francisco, California. The annual Dreamforce conference runs through October 16. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Image shows Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

“By gaining ownership of LinkedIn’s unique dataset of over 450 million professionals in more than 200 countries, Microsoft will be able to deny competitors access to that data, and in doing so obtain an unfair competitive advantage,” Burke Norton, Salesforce’s chief legal officer, said in a statement.

“Salesforce believes this raises significant antitrust and data privacy issues that need to be fully scrutinized by competition and data privacy authorities in the United States and in the European Union,” he said.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said in a statement: “Salesforce may not be aware, but the deal has already been cleared to close in the United States, Canada, and Brazil. We’re committed to continuing to work to bring price competition to a CRM market in which Salesforce is the dominant participant charging customers higher prices today.”

Read: Microsoft To Buy LinkedIn In $26bn Deal.

Microsoft and LinkedIn’s merger hasn’t been officially submitted for European Union approval yet but has already cleared other countries, including the United States, The Mercury News confirms.

The report quotes Margrethe Vestager, the European Union antitrust chief, as saying that the EU will surely carry out investigations on whether “the data purchased in the deal has a very long durability and might constitute a barrier for others, or if they can be replicated so that others stand a chance to enter the market.” She gave the answer in response to a June question from Bloomberg about the Microsoft-LinkedIn deal.

Meanwhile, Daniel Rubinfeld, a law professor at UC Berkeley and New York University, says he expects a tougher stance from the European Union, adding that the regulators pay serious attention to user privacy matters.

In his words: “The EU has shown somewhat different legal standards and much more interest in privacy concerns than U.S. agencies.”