Taking the bull by the horns, Facebook is reportedly seeking European Union antitrust approval for its plan to buy WhatsApp.
Facebook requested the European Commission scrutinise the antitrust aspects of the $19bn deal, Bloomberg reported.
If a company faces a merger review in three EU countries, it can ask the commission to handle the case.
Matthew Hall, a lawyer at McGuire Woods LLP in Brussels, who isn’t involved with the case, told Bloomberg in an e-mail, “Depending on where Facebook would have had to file, it may feel safer with dealing with the sophisticated, unbiased commission merger people."
Jose Rivas, a lawyer at Bird & Bird in Brussels, explained why Facebook may have taken the direct approach, "Imagine you have to notify in Germany, in France and in Italy. In each country you have to do it in a different language, different procedure, different deadlines and no guarantee of non-contradictory decisions. Because imagine the Germans say ‘yes,’ the French say ‘no’ and the Italians say ‘yes.’
“If you go to Brussels you have one language, one procedure, one deadline, one everything,” Rivas said.
The cash-and-stock acquisition would be the biggest by Facebook, the world’s largest social network. At $19 billion it is the most expensive for an internet company in more than a decade.
In addition to antitrust issues, the merger has sparked concerns about privacy as data-protection regulators question how the mobile-messaging startup’s client data will be used.
The European Commission and Facebook declined to comment.