Microsoft might finally have all the pieces in place to finalize its Skype acquisition.
Joaquín Almunia, the European Union's competition commissioner, is ready to approve Microsoft's acquisition of Skype, the Financial Times is reporting. The publication says that Almunia will approve the deal without requiring Microsoft to give any concessions, indicating that the governing body does not feel the deal will stifle competition.
In May, Microsoft announced plans to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion. As part of the terms of the deal, Skype will become its own division within the software giant's operation, led by its current CEO Tony Bates. In a statement at the time, Microsoft, which hopes to close the deal by the end of the year, said that it plans to "connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live, and other communities."
"Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement announcing the acquisition. "Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world."
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Just a month after Microsoft announced plans to acquire Skype, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission approved the deal, saying that it wouldn't affect competition in the marketplace, since the companies would be facing off with a host of competitors, including Google Talk, and on the video-chat side, Apple's FaceTime platform.
Microsoft faced more hurdles in its bid to get the EU to approve the deal, due mainly to concerns from some rivals that feared the acquisition could stifle competition. As the Financial Times points out, Italy-based Messagenet, a Skype competitor, argued that Microsoft's "bundling" of Skype in Windows could hurt rivals.
In response, Microsoft argued that it would not modify the availability of Skype, and the service would still be offered on a host of platforms, including Windows' chief competitor, Mac OS X. The VoIP service will also still be available to iOS and Android customers after the acquisition.
But before all that can happen, the European Union must officially approve the deal. There's currently no timetable for when that will happen, and Microsoft declined to comment on the Financial Times report.
However, if the deal is approved soon, as expected, Microsoft should be able to close the acquisition on schedule.