After waiting for months, Microsoft and Skype got some good news today. The European Commission has finally approved the merger of the two companies which should clear the way for the deal, first announced in May, to officially close. In a press release today, the EU said it gave its thumbs-up to the merger "because the deal would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it."
Microsoft first announced in May that it would pay $8.5 billion in cash to acquire Skype, which has over 660 million registered users for its Internet-based phone and video chat service. The deal was approved by the US's Federal Communications Commission back in June. In explaining today's decision by the EU, it said, "In the area of consumer communications, the investigation found that the parties' activities mainly overlap for video communications, where Microsoft is active through its Windows Live Messenger. However, the Commission considers that there are no competition concerns in this growing market where numerous players, including Google, are present. For enterprise communications, the investigation confirmed that Skype has a limited market presence for these products and does not compete directly with Microsoft's enterprise communication product Lync, which is used mostly by large enterprises."
As we previously reported, the EU was urged by other software companies in Europe to delay its approval, as they wanted the commission to force Microsoft to un-bundle the Skype software from Microsoft's Windows operating system. Microsoft has already said that even after the Skype merger becomes official it will continue to develop Skype for other hardware and software platforms.