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Microsoft, Skype deal gets U.S. clearance

U.S. Federal Trade Commission has announced early termination of a review into the deal

Microsoft has received clearance from U.S. antitrust regulators for its proposed purchase of Internet telephony company Skype.

The transaction was granted an "early termination" of a review into the proposed deal, according to an update on Friday from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Microsoft said in May that it has agreed to buy Skype for US$8.5 billion. Once the merger is complete, Microsoft plans to add Skype support to its Xbox and Kinect gaming devices and Windows Phone mobile operating system, and connect Skype users with its own Lync, Outlook and Xbox Live communications services.

Microsoft said it will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms.

Under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act, parties to certain large mergers and acquisitions must file a pre-merger notification and wait for government review, according to the FTC website. Parties proposing a deal file with both the FTC and Department of Justice, but only one antitrust agency will review the proposed merger.

A Microsoft spokesman said on Monday in an e-mail that the clearance had been received from the DOJ. Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said in a message on Twitter over the weekend that the approval from the DOJ was a key step "in the global regulatory approval process." The FTC had not specified which of the two agencies had cleared the proposed acquisition.

Persons filing an HSR form may request that the waiting period be terminated before the statutory period expires, but such a request for "early termination" will be granted only after the FTC and the DOJ's Antitrust Division have completed their review and determined not to take any enforcement action during the waiting period, FTC said.

Microsoft said in May that the parties hope to obtain all required regulatory clearances during the course of this calendar year.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is [email protected]


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