EU may probe Facebook’s Kustomer acquisition over antitrust concerns

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EU may probe Facebook's Kustomer acquisition over antitrust concerns

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(Reuters) – Facebook’s takeover of customer service startup Kustomer could be subject to an antitrust review by the European Union after Austria asked EU executors to take on the task, the European Commission announced on Tuesday.

The move comes when the EU competition regulator scrutinizes more tech, pharmaceutical and biotech startup deals and sends a warning to tech giants criticized by some for making so-called killer acquisitions where startups buy up emerging rivals to close them.

The world’s largest social network announced the deal in November. This could help the company expand its WhatsApp instant messaging app, which has seen soaring usage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook applied to the Austrian competition agency for approval for the deal on March 31.

“We can confirm that we have received an application for a transfer from Austria,” said a spokesman for the commission.

Other national watchdogs have 15 working days to inform the EU competition authorities whether they too would like him to review the agreement.

“After the deadline for other Member States to join the transfer, the Commission has 10 working days to decide whether to accept or reject the transfer,” the spokesman said.

Facebook said the deal would bring more innovation to businesses and consumers in a dynamic and competitive environment.

“We look forward to demonstrating to regulators that Facebook and Kustomer offer more choices and better services through this pro-competitive deal,” said a Facebook spokesman.

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