Mr. Softie Is Mr. Nice Guy?


According to the Financial Times, Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) is on the verge of sailing through a review of its Skype acquisition, currently being conducted by Europe's notoriously antsy competition commission. Incredibly, FT reports that the EU Competition Commission will not require Microsoft to take any "remedies" whatsoever to offset the risk to competition in the software industry.

Microsoft won similar approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in June. Back then, the FTC reasoned that with Google (NAS: GOOG) , Vonage (NYS: VG) , Apple (NAS: AAPL) , and Cisco (NAS: CSCO) all offering rival online communications platforms, the risk of Microsoft parlaying Skype into dominance of the online communications market is pretty slim. Antimonopoly authorities in Russia, Ukraine, Taiwan, and Serbia have yet to weigh in. Further bolstering its case, though, Microsoft promised the commission that rather than keeping Skype all to itself, it will continue to make the software available for use on rival devices such as the iPhone and Android smartphones.

Foolish takeaway
I'm not saying Microsoft shareholders should be dancing in the streets over this decision. I still agree with fellow Fool Rick Munarriz that Microsoft is vastly overpaying for Skype, which it could have bought from eBay a few years ago for a fraction of the $8.5 billion it's shelling out today. Sure, there's merit to the argument that Microsoft, through its alliances with Yahoo! (NAS: YHOO) and Nokia (NYS: NOK) , will be able to make better use of Skype than eBay did. But I still believe the company has overplayed the "synergies" argument here.

But at the very least, now we have some assurance that Microsoft won't be forced to unwind the transaction and write off the (presumed) millions of dollars in due diligence costs and legal fees as a total loss. That's better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Will Microsoft prove all the skeptics wrong and turn Skype into a money-maker?Add the stock to your watchlistto find out.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorRich Smithowns shares of Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Google, and Yahoo!.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Yahoo!, Microsoft, Apple, Cisco Systems, and Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave also recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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