Even though Facebook already has approval from the United States Federal Trade Commission for the $16 billion purchase of Whatsapp, the company is looking to get ahead of the game in Europe. Facebook has asked regulators that are part of the European Commission to review the acquisition deal ahead of possible antitrust concerns. The move is interesting as Facebook is looking to have one hearing over concerns rather than be forced into individual reviews in separate countries. In the report from the Wall Street Journal, experts said that by going to the commission, Facebook may see “a more neutral approach than national authorities, which would face vigorous lobbying from local interest groups such as national telecom companies.”
Facebook Inc. FB +0.05% has asked European Union antitrust regulators to examine its $19 billion deal to buy messaging service WhatsApp, in an attempt to avoid antitrust reviews by multiple EU countries, people familiar with the matter said. The move was unexpected because the deal had been approved in the U.S. and wasn’t expected to face scrutiny by the European Commission, the EU’s central antitrust authority. But, in light of the potential for reviews by some of Europe’s national antitrust watchdogs, Facebook is seeking one hearing that will cover the entire 28-nation bloc, the people said. “Facebook might prefer to go to the commission than go before several national regulators, which would each ask it for information,” said Thomas Graf, an antitrust lawyer with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in Brussels. The commission also might be expected to take a more neutral approach than national authorities, which would face vigorous lobbying from local interest groups, such as national telecom companies, antitrust experts said.