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European Commission approves Microsoft’s Skype acquisition

Microsoft has welcomed the European Commission's decision to approve the software giant's acquisition of Skype.

Speaking last week, Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice-president of Microsoft, remarked that his company is "pleased" that the transaction will go ahead.

He said: "This is an important milestone, as we've now received clearance from both the United States and the European Union."

Smith added: "We look forward to completing soon the final steps needed to close the acquisition, bringing together the employees of Microsoft and Skype – and creating new opportunities for people to communicate and collaborate around the world."

On Friday (October 7), anti-trust officials at the European Commission announced their approval of the takeover, which is rumoured to be worth US$8.5 billion.

Skype has previously been the subject of some concerns in Europe, with one Italian rival expressing worry over Microsoft's bundling plans that would see Skype integrated into Windows.

This, Messagenet argued, could exclude other voice over internet protocol (VoIP) firms from the market.

However, the commission highlighted that while the activities of both companies overlap when it comes to consumer communications – particularly video, which is used both by Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger and Skype – there are "no competition concerns".

This is due to the "growing market" in global consumer communications, which includes a number of other significant players – most notably search engine Google.

The EC's approval means that Microsoft has virtually been given the all-clear to integrate Skype into its full range of products.

Skype is Microsoft's largest acquisition to date – and the telecoms service claims to have more than 120 million regular users around the world. The telecoms provider also powers Facebook's video calling service.