Competition: Commission conditionally approves acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft

On 6 December 2016, the Commission conditionally approved the proposed acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft. Microsoft and LinkedIn are mainly active in complementary business areas, except for minor overlaps in online advertising. The Commission's investigation focused especially on professional social network services, customer relationship management software solutions, and online advertising services.

The Commission identified a number of concerns in the professional social network services market, in particular that Microsoft would pre-install LinkedIn on all Windows PCs and integrate LinkedIn into Microsoft Office and combine LinkedIn's and Microsoft's user databases (to the extent allowed by contract and applicable privacy laws).To address these concerns, Microsoft offered a series of commitments, such as ensuring that PC manufacturers and distributors would be free not to install LinkedIn on Windows and allowing users to remove LinkedIn from Windows should PC manufacturers and distributors decide to preinstall it. In addition, competing professional social network service providers will be able to maintain current levels of interoperability with Microsoft's Office suite of products. Further, competing professional social network service providers will also be given access to "Microsoft Graph", a gateway for software developers that is used to build applications and services that can, subject to user consent, access data stored in the Microsoft cloud.

The Commission concluded that the commitments address all its competition concerns and subsequently approved the transaction as modified by the commitments. Source: Commission Press Release 6/12/2016

Competition: Commission fines Crédit Agricole, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase 485 million EUR for their participation in the EURIBOR cartel

On 7 December 2016, the Commission announced that it has fined the banks Crédit Agricole, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase for their participation in an interest rate derivatives cartel. The Commission's investigation of the cartel started in 2011. A settlement was reached with the four other participating banks in 2013, namely Barclays, Deutsche Bank, RBS and Société Générale.

According to the Commission, the banks colluded by exchanging sensitive information. Traders at the banks were in regular contact and told each other about their desired or intended Euro Interbank Offered Rate ("EURIBOR") submissions and exchanged other sensitive information. The EURIBOR is a benchmark interest rate intended to reflect the cost of interbank lending in EUR. It is based on daily submissions from a number of panel banks, including the cartelists. The Commission's investigation has shown that the cartel was in place from September 2005 until May 2008 and that it covered the whole European Economic Area ("EEA").

The Commission's decision means that Crédit Agricole, HSBS and JPMorgan Chase shall pay a total of 485 million EUR in fines for their participation in what has become known as the EURIBOR cartel. Source: Commission Press Release 7/12/2016 and Statement by Commissioner Vestager 7/12/2016