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File Photo: Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff an.
File Photo: Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff.

Salesforce wanted to acquire LinkedIn earlier this year, but ultimately it was Microsoft that agreed to pay $26.2 billion for the business social network in July.

But now, with the deal still pending approval, Salesforce plans to ask regulators in the U.S. and Europe to investigate the deal, citing antitrust concerns.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Salesforce is worried that the deal could possibly prevent access to LinkedIn’s trove of data about companies and their respective employees, while also giving Microsoft an unfair advantage over competitors.

Here’s a statement from Salesforce Chief Legal Officer Burke Norton:

“Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of LinkedIn threatens the future of innovation and competition. By gaining ownership of LinkedIn’s unique dataset of over 450 million professionals in more than 200 countries, Microsoft will be able to deny competitors access to that data, and in doing so obtain an unfair competitive advantage. Salesforce believes this raises significant antitrust and data privacy issues that need to be fully scrutinized by competition and data privacy authorities in the United States and in the European Union. We intend to work closely with regulators, lawmakers and other stakeholders to make the case that this merger is anticompetitive.”

Salesforce appears to be quite serious in its attempt to investigate the regulatory aspects of the deal, as CEO Marc Benioff tweeted several stories on Thursday that detailed his company’s concerns.

Benioff also tweeted a transcript from a Microsoft presentation at the Deutsche Bank Technology Conference, noting that he hoped regulators look at the how company plans to utilize LinkedIn data.

Bloomberg noted that the deal has been cleared by U.S. regulators, but has not been submitted for European Union approval.

Update: Microsoft released this statement from Brad Smith, its president and chief legal officer: “Salesforce may not be aware, but the deal has already been cleared to close in the United States, Canada, and Brazil.  We’re committed to continuing to work to bring price competition to a CRM market in which Salesforce is the dominant participant charging customers higher prices today.”

Marc Benioff at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)
Marc Benioff at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

LinkedIn reached an agreement on June 11 to be acquired by Microsoft for $196/share in cash, or $26.2 billion, the largest deal in Microsoft’s history.

A regulatory filing by LinkedIn from July showed that Salesforce was willing to bid “much higher” than Microsoft, but LinkedIn decided not to respond to its proposal.

Filings also revealed that Benioff continued to email LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and co-founder Reid Hoffman about his company’s bid, even after LinkedIn agreed to an exclusive negotiation period with Microsoft.

Once rivals, Salesforce and Microsoft began working together in 2014. But given recent events, the partnership has “cooled,” Bloomberg reported.

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