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Salesforce Opposes Deal Between Microsoft And LinkedIn, Works With Regulators To Block It

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Salesforce just declared that it will be opposing the deal between LinkedIn and Microsoft and will proceed on working with regulators for that purpose.

The recent move could be interpreted as mere sourgraping on the part of Salesforce since it lost to Microsoft when LinkedIn was put on the auction block. But its recent pronouncements signify that the motivation could be more than that.

The position that Salesforce is taking presently is that the LinkedIn-Microsoft deal could jeopardize competition and privacy. This was expressed in more detail by Burke Norton, chief legal officer to Salesforce, in an interview with ZDNet.

"By gaining ownership of LinkedIn's unique dataset of over 450 million professionals in more than 200 countries, Microsoft will be able to deny competitors access to that data, and in doing so obtain an unfair competitive advantage," Burke said.

It is not clear whether this particular argument holds water or whether it is known to regulators when they approved the deal. Although the European Union Commission is still poring over the deal's details, it has already passed U.S. regulatory scrutiny. There is no word yet whether Salesforce is formally asking the U.S. regulatory body to reconsider its decision.

The deal could now possibly take longer to complete as Salesforce appears determined to raise a mighty ruckus over the affair. A spokesperson for Microsoft has already confirmed that they expect the process to be completed this year.

One could also gain some insights from the European Union's position on security to determine a possible outcome. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, for example, has already maintained that the bloc is concerned with the way and extent tech companies control data and how it could impact competition.

"A company might even buy up a rival just to get hold of its data," Vestager has said. "We are therefore exploring whether we need to start looking at mergers with valuable data involved."

Observers, therefore, believe that Microsoft might no longer escape close scrutiny in the European Union as it had when it sailed through the bloc's merger investigations for its Nokia acquisition.

Microsoft is set to buy LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, an acquisition that is considered its largest acquisition to date. It is, however, significantly lower than what Salesforce reportedly offered. This was confirmed by LinkedIn when it cited an email from Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO, in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

"The email indicated that Party A would have bid much higher and made changes to the stock/cash components of its offers, but it was acting without communications from LinkedIn," LinkedIn said.

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