Salesforce Aims To Block Microsoft’s $26.2 Billion Acquisition of LinkedIn

Microsoft's planned $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, announced in June, could enable the company to block competitors' access to LinkedIn's data and global network of professionals, according to rival Salesforce, which is urging European regulators to closely scrutinize the deal.

While regulators in the U.S., Canada and Brazil have already approved the acquisition, authorities in Europe are still reviewing the merger. As a matter of course, the European Commission regularly contacts other companies for comments during such reviews. Salesforce chief legal officer Burke Norton responded yesterday with a statement calling the deal "anticompetitive."

Salesforce had also tried to acquire LinkedIn and even continued to pursue a deal after the Microsoft purchase was announced on June 13. According to a report yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff later emailed LinkedIn executives to say he had been ready to offer a "much higher" price for the company than Microsoft.

'Threatens Future of Innovation'

"Microsoft's proposed acquisition of LinkedIn threatens the future of innovation and competition," Norton said in the statement. "By gaining ownership of LinkedIn's unique dataset of over 450 million professionals in more than 200 countries, Microsoft will be able to deny competitors access to that data, and in doing so obtain an unfair competitive advantage."

In his response, Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said, "Salesforce may not be aware, but the deal has already been cleared to close in the United States, Canada, and Brazil. We're committed to continuing to work to bring price competition to a CRM market in which Salesforce is the dominant participant charging customers higher prices today."

Under its review procedures, the European Commission examines proposed mergers to determine if they would "significantly impede effective competition in the EU [European Union]." Based on its findings, the commission can either approve...

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