Microsoft’s $8.5 billion purchase of online communications company Skype just won approval from European regulators, clearing the way for the largest acquisition in the Redmond company’s history.
The European Commission’s review determined that the deal “would not significantly impede effective competition,” the agency says in a statement explaining its decision. The statement cites Google by name as one of the companies making the market competitive.
“In the area of consumer communications, the investigation found that the parties’ activities mainly overlap for video communications, where Microsoft is active through its Windows Live Messenger,” the statement said. “However, the Commission considers that there are no competition concerns in this growing market where numerous players, including Google, are present.”
The commission continued, “For enterprise communications, the investigation confirmed that Skype has a limited market presence for these products and does not compete directly with Microsoft’s enterprise communication product Lync, which is used mostly by large enterprises.”
In his own statement, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said the company is pleased with the approval, calling it an important milestone following the earlier consent of U.S. regulators.
“We look forward to completing soon the final steps needed to close the acquisition, bringing together the employees of Microsoft and Skype, and creating new opportunities for people to communicate and collaborate around the world,” Smith said.
Skype, known for its widely used video chat service, is expected to operate as its own division inside the Redmond company, with Skype functionality incorporated into many Microsoft products.
Skype competitor Messagenet had expressed opposition to the deal in Europe, asking regulators to prevent Microsoft from integrating Skype into Windows as a condition of approving the acquisition.