Regulators from the European Union have approved Facebook’s bid to purchase messaging service WhatsApp, paving the way for the social giant’s largest acquisition to date.
While some within the telecoms industry were opposed to the deal, the EU said that the two companies were not ‘close competitors’ and that, even after the acquisition, a wide range of mobile communication programs would still be available.
Facebook confirmed that it intends to keep WhatsApp as a separate service as it has with photo-sharing app Instagram, which it bought for around £447m in 2012.
Commenting on the deal, which is reported to have cost the social network almost £12bn, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the combination of the two services will allow Facebook to make people better connected.
According to WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, the messaging service attracts more than a million new users and sees 19 billion messages sent every day. To date, the app boasts around 451 million active monthly users; in comparison, second-largest social network Twitter has about 241 million.
What the deal will mean for the fate of Facebook’s own standalone messaging app, which was recently separated from the social network’s core app on mobile devices, is yet to be revealed.
Some analysts believe the deal could serve as a reputation management boost for Facebook, as it could increase the network’s appeal with teens. Will Stewart, a professor from the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said he believes the acquisition will, for the moment, strengthen Facebook’s position.