EC approves Microsoft’s takeover of LinkedIn

CRA advised Microsoft in its $26bn takeover of LinkedIn, both in Europe and in the US.   The transaction was cleared by the FTC unconditionally, and by the European Commission subject to conditions in Phase I. The EC dropped its conglomerate concerns in the segment of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, whilst undertakings were agreed to address remaining potential concerns in “professional social networking” (“PSN”).

The CRA team was led by Cristina Caffarra and included Fiona Scott-Morton in the US, and Lars Wiethaus, Matthew Bennett  and Alessandro Kadner-Graziano in Europe. The analysis considered the parties’ ability and incentive to foreclose third-party suppliers of CRM solutions by restricting the availability of LinkedIn’s (sales intelligence) products, or tying/bundling them with Microsoft’s productivity assets. It also considered the potential for LinkedIn’s data to confer an “unassailable advantage” when combined with Microsoft’s “machine learning” capabilities. As “anticompetitive foreclosure” was extremely improbable, the EC dropped its initial concerns in this segment entirely.   Competing PSN providers also alleged that the integration of LinkedIn functionalities into Microsoft’s Windows and Office products would have undermined their ability to compete – as the transaction would have enabled deeper integration of LinkedIn within Microsoft’s productivity assets.  An undertaking was agreed to resolve the matter in Phase I.

CRA also assisted the parties in estimating market shares for advertising and recruitment solutions for 20+ Member States, as well as in analysing multi-homing and user engagement data at national levels.

Further information on the case can be found here.