The European Union is set to approve Facebook Inc.’s (FB) acquisition of mobile-messaging service WhatsApp over the objections of the European telecoms industry, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The WSJ cited a person familiar with the situation as saying that the E.U. Commission, which runs Europe’s antitrust regime, appeared unconcerned by the antitrust aspects of the deal.
The person explained that, nearly a month after it opened its investigation, the Commission still hasn’t held what’s known as a “state of play” meeting to assess the current state of competition in the relevant market. The Commission is due to decide on the case by Oct. 3.
WhatsApp would give Facebook a powerful new tool in the world of instant messaging, an area where its current users are pretty unhappy with Facebook’s current offering, Messenger.
But it was sharply opposed by European telecoms company who fear that a company with Facebook’s reach could rob them of billions of dollars in revenue that they currently get from SMS charges.
The deal had already received clearance from U.S. antitrust authorities in April, but the increasing nervousness about the power of big U.S.-based tech companies meant that it was never going to get an easy ride in the E.U.
Facebook had asked the Commission to examine the deal even though it wasn’t actually big enough to require E.U. intervention, partly because it was afraid of more resistance from national regulators in countries such as Germany.