Facebook Seeks EU Antitrust Review of $19 Billion WhatsApp Deal

The $19 billion Facebook–WhatsApp deal has already been approved by the US Federal Trade Commission, but since the social giant could face some local challenges in certain European countries, it has taken an interesting step: it has gone to the EU regulators itself and asked them to review the deal, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.


Facebook’s privacy policy has caused outrage in Europe and prompted regulatory investigations. In those cases, the social media giant has been facing delicate questions and vigorous lobbying from local interest groups, and has been forced onto the defensive, so it has decided to act pre-emptively this time.

By asking the EU commission for an antitrust review of the $19 billion deal, Facebook could avoid burdensome competition probes in multiple European countries, people familiar with the matter have told the WSJ.

At its request, Facebook cited the potential for national antitrust probes in the UK, Spain and Cyprus, according to sources. The catch is that EU countries have 15 days to object to the EU and take over the case. If they fail to do so, the deal will be reviewed by the EU commission.

Fact is, European telecom players have their reasons to object to the deal. According to the WSJ, they describe as an assault by so-called over-the-top companies, which compete unfairly against phone companies.

When contacted, officials in Cyprus, the UK and Spain declined to comment on the matter.