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Microsoft to Close LinkedIn Acquisition Within Days

Mitch Wagner

Microsoft says it's cleared its final hurdle for its LinkedIn acquisition after getting regulatory approval from the European Commission. It says it plans to close the $26.2 billion deal within days.

Salesforce.com Inc. and other Microsoft competitors protested the acquisition, citing concerns that Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) would gain unfair access to LinkedIn Corp. data.

As part of the discussions with the European Commission, Microsoft agreed to restrictions on its LinkedIn integration, according to a blog post Tuesday from Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer. Microsoft will continue providing hooks to allow third-party professional social media services to integrate with Office, allow users and IT administrators to opt out of LinkedIn integration, and won't require PC manufacturers to pre-install Windows LinkedIn Applications.

Microsoft and LinkedIn announced the acquisition in June, looking to integrate LinkedIn professional information with Microsoft's cloud services. Smith notes that soon afterwards, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, and months later, the US Presidential election concluded. "On both sides of the Atlantic, it has become increasingly apparent that many people feel left out and unable to participate in the economic growth and opportunities created by the rising digital economy," Smith says, adding that technology -- including the combined Microsoft and LinkedIn -- can contribute to finding solutions to those problems.

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The EU confirms the approval in its own statement, noting that Microsoft is "a relatively small player" in CRM, facing "strong competitors," including "Salesforce, the clear market leader, Oracle and SAP."

In announcing the acquisition in June, the two companies said they're looking to integrate LinkedIn's professional information with Microsoft's business apps and cloud service to enhance selling, marketing and talent management. LinkedIn will retain its brand and independence, Microsoft said at the time. The companies will integrate LinkedIn's professional relationships' graphs in Outlook, Calendar, Active Directory, Office and more. (See Microsoft & LinkedIn: Marriage Made in the Cloud.)

Prior to the acquisition announcement, LinkedIn disclosed big plans to transition to a private cloud. The company has not disclosed details on what the acquisition will do to the future of those plans, but recently launched an Oregon data center as part of the strategy. (See Under Microsoft, LinkedIn's Big Cloud Plans Face Uncertain Future and LinkedIn Powers Up Oregon Data Center.)

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

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