Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) may face a hurdle in their acquisition of WhatsApp as regulators in the European Union have sent a new questionnaire about the deal to rival companies and consumers, a report from The Wall Street Journal notes.
According to the publication, the survey over the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) deal to acquire the messaging services company is “an unusual move” which is seen to possibly hinder the deal from being finalized.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is hoping to acquire WhatsApp for about $19 billion.
The questionnaire aims to give the European Commission, the antitrust agency of the European Union, an idea as to what differentiates a social network from a messaging application, the report adds. Furthermore, the questionnaire is also seen to shed a light on how competition is shaping up in the region in this industry.
According to The Wall Street Journal, possible recipients of the 70-page-long questionnaire are wireless carriers, other social networking companies and consumers. The length of the questionnaire, the publication adds, is unusual.
“[The length of the questionnaire] highlights [the merging parties’]soft underbelly,” an unnamed EU antitrust lawyer is quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying.
The European Commission has an October 3 provisional deadline to approve the merger. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has already cleared the merger of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and WhatsApp but it did remind the social networking giant that the deal would be subject to an earlier agreement the agency had with the company.
In the 2012 agreement, the FTC asked the company to notify and obtain consent from users before sharing user information out of the bounds of their privacy settings. The deal also required the company to maintain a privacy program for user data protection, The Wall Street Journal notes.
The new questionnaire comes from the European Commission after it sent an initial questionnaire about the deal to other companies and consumers in July. Facebook Inc and WhatsApp only formally notified the commission on August 29 of their intent to merge.
According to The Wall Street Journal, those who were sent this second, longer questionnaire have until September 8 to complete the survey.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) shareholders includes Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management which reported about 5.87 million shares in the social networking giant by the end of 2014’s second quarter.