EU launches antitrust probe into Facebook's $19bn WhatsApp acquisition

EU antitrust regulators have launched an investigation into Facebook’s proposed WhatsApp acquisition, asking communication rivals whether it would monopolise the market or drive up prices.

Zuckerberg claimed WhatsApp and Facebook services will never merge

The $19bn acquisition of WhatsApp, which was announced in May, is Facebook’s most expensive deal to date. It will be probed by the EU Commission with the findings scheduled to be published 3 October this year.

In May, the social network approached the EU to look into anti-trust issues as WhatsApp’s free service could undermine existing European telecom providers.

Watchdogs have sent questionnaires to EU brands and telecom providers asking them what impact the deal could have on businesses - and consumers.

Reuters claimed to have seen the questionnaire, the report asked companies to "explain why and what kind of negative impact [the deal could have for you]".

It also asked "do you expect users of WhatsApp to face greater difficulties in switching to another consumer communications service/app” and "do you expect that it will be more difficult for WhatsApp's competitors to expand their user base or to launch a new consumer communications service/apps".

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg in February called WhatsApp a “clear global leader” in communications despite Asian rival Tencent’s QQ boasting around 170m worldwide users.

With the deal cleared by US regulators in May, the firms are only waiting on the green flag from European authorities.

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