EU antitrust authority approves Facebook's $19 billion takeover of messaging service WhatsApp

Markets Associated Press

The European Union's antitrust authority says it has approved Facebook's proposed $19 billion takeover of the messaging service WhatsApp.

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The 28-nation bloc's executive Commission said Friday the deal may go ahead because consumers will continue to have a wide choice of alternative communication apps they could use. Facebook Inc. runs its own mobile messaging service with its Messenger app but the EU found the merged entity "would continue to face sufficient competition."

EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia says "while Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are two of the most popular apps, most people use more than one communications app."

The Commission says WhatsApp — launched in 2009 — has some 600 million users globally. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hopes it will reach 1 billion in a few years.