The European Union has finally approved Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, almost six months after the deal was given the green light by US regulators. It’s the social network’s biggest purchase to date, and it gives it a major presence in the mobile messaging industry. The deal also gives WhatsApp the power to mount its biggest fight yet against the networks and traditional text messaging, but EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia believes that the success of rival messaging services like Viber and Line won’t lead to total WhatsApp domination.
Facebook, the world’s most popular social network, gained European Union clearance on Friday for its proposed $19 billion takeover of mobile messaging startup WhatsApp in a deal setting it against the telecoms industry. The landmark deal is the largest in Facebook’s 10-year history and will give it a strong foothold in the fast-growing mobile messaging market. WhatsApp is poised to become a potentially powerful rival to companies such as Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telecom Italia with its plan to add free voice-call services for its 450 million customers later this year. The European Commission said the Facebook-WhatsApp deal would not hurt competition. “We have carefully reviewed this proposed acquisition and come to the conclusion that it would not hamper competition in this dynamic and growing market. Consumers will continue to have a wide choice of consumer communications apps,” European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.