European Commission clears the way for Microsoft-LinkedIn deal

Microsoft’s $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn looks like it’s ready to go.

The company’s Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith just announced that the deal has been cleared by the European Commission — the last regulator that needed to sign off on the deal.

“As a result, we’ve now obtained all of the regulatory approvals needed to complete the acquisition, and the deal will close in the coming days,” Smith said.

Reuters had previously reported that Microsoft was offering concession to the EU regulators in response to their concerns. Smith’s blog post confirms that Microsoft has “formalized several commitments regarding Microsoft’s support for third-party professional social networking services” — in other words, the company is supposed to take steps to ensure that LinkedIn competitors don’t get completely disadvantaged on Microsoft platforms.

He provided a few specifics, like continuing to make the Office Add-In program (used to integrate with Microsoft Office products) and promotional opportunities on the Office Store available to non-LinkedIn networks. Some of these concessions also involve potential integrations between Microsoft products and LinkedIn — IT administrators and individual users should get the option of whether to display LinkedIn profile information in Microsoft Office, for example. (All of those examples are five-year commitments, by the way.)

“With this regulatory process behind us, we can bring together two great companies and focus on even broader issues for the future,” Smith said. “The events of the past six months make not just this business opportunity, but the broader societal issues connected to them, more important.”

Which issues? Smith said that together, the two companies have “a bigger opportunity to help people online to develop and earn credentials for new skills, identify and pursue new jobs, and become more creative and productive as they work with their colleagues.”