Facebook's Instagram acquisition gets U.K. OK

The Office of Fair Trading says that it has not decided to send the merger to the U.K.'s competition commission, effectively giving the deal the go-ahead.

Facebook's $1 billion proposed Instagram acquisition is one step closer to approval.

The U.K.'s Office of Fair Trading today approved the deal, saying that it has decided "not to refer this merger to the Competition Commission." The agency had until August 23 to refer the acquisition inquiry to the commission.

Back in June, U.K. news outlet Guardian reported that the Office of Fair Trading was considering investigating the deal . The publication said, citing sources, that the agency was concerned that the deal would hurt competition in the marketplace by combining two of the most popular photo-sharing services on the Web.

Privacy critics are especially concerned about the proposed acquisition. Some have said that Facebook, which has had its fair share of dealings with regulators over privacy concerns, might dramatically alter the overall security on Instagram.

"Part of the concern is that it's Facebook," Chris Conley, an attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, told CNET in April. "And their history of privacy and respecting user choices is mixed."

Facebook announced plans to acquire Instagram for $1 billion back in April. The deal, which was reportedly hashed out by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, includes $300 million in cash and the remaining sum in stock. With Facebook's declining stock price, however, the $1 billion price tag is now lower.

But before the final price can be tabulated, Facebook must obtain regulatory approval from many more government entities, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Back in May, a report surfaced, claiming that the FTC was in the process of obtaining information for its investigation into the deal and that inquiry could take as much as a year to complete .

CNET has contacted Facebook for comment on the approval. We will update this story when we have more information.

 

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