Facebook has asked European Union antitrust regulators to examine its US$19 billion acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp, in an attempt to avoid other antitrust reviews by individual countries, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The move was unexpected because the deal has already been approved in the US and wasn’t expected to face scrutiny by the European Commission, the paper said.
However, in light of potential reviews from different countries, Facebook is seeking one hearing that will cover the entire 28-nation bloc, it said.
The commission 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, experts were quoted as saying.
The deal has raised concerns among Europe’s telecom companies, which have warned that WhatsApp would give Facebook a dominant position in the market for instant messaging in Europe.
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