Salesforce opposes Microsoft-LinkedIn merger

Business software provider Salesforce.com Inc. has opposed the proposed acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft and has urged the European Union regulator to block the deal on the ground that the merger could harm competition and privacy.

The deal, Microsoft's largest ever, has already been approved by regulators in the US, Canada, and Brazil, while the European Commission (EC) has sought information from rivals as part of its routine steps while reviewing a major merger.

In June, software giant Microsoft announced plans to buy professional networking platform LinkedIn for $26.2-billion in an all-cash deal. (See: Microsoft to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 bn in cash)

Salesforce chief legal officer, Burke Norton said 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."

Salesforce had aggressively bid for LinkedIn, but the professional networking site opted to be bought by Microsoft although Salesforce had made a higher bid than Microsoft.

The EC competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has already voiced concerns on the ways that technology companies' control of data which might harm competition.

It is also aware that at times technology companies acquire a company only for its data, and Vestager had earlier said that the EC would explore whether its need to start looking at mergers with valuable data involved.

Although Microsoft and LinkedIn expect to close the deal this year, the EC may launch an in-depth investigation, which would drag the entire process to next year.