The European Union has finally approved Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, almost six months after the deal was given the green light by U.S. regulators. It’s the social network’s biggest purchase to date, and it gives it a major presence in the mobile messaging industry.
The deal also gives WhatsApp the power (and resources) to mount its biggest fight yet against the networks and traditional text messaging, but EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia believes that the success of rival messaging services like Viber and Line won’t lead to total WhatsApp domination.
“We have carefully reviewed this proposed acquisition and come to the conclusion that it would not hamper competition in this dynamic and growing market,” Almunia said. “Consumers will continue to have a wide choice of consumer communications apps.”
Reuters first reported that the deal would be cleared by the EU “unconditionally” on September 25, and Facebook will surely have expected it to get the go ahead without any issues — but the EU did send questionnaires to WhatsApp’s rivals to in an effort to gauge the takeover’s impact on the industry before deciding whether it should be approved.
It’s thought one of WhatsApp’s first major moves as a Facebook company will be to take on rivals like Skype with a new VoIP calling feature. WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum had promised that voice calling would arrive earlier this year, but its 450 million users are still waiting for it.