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Microsoft & aQuantive: a step closer to closing

Friday, the first of obstacles to Microsoft’s planned $6b purchase of Internet advertising firm, aQuantive was passed without incident.  

checklist It was disclosed in an SEC filing that the Federal Trade Commission “waiting period,” a time window set aside for regulators to formally request more information, expired without any further requests. 

Under the terms of the Hart Scott Rodino Antitrust Act (HSR), companies are required to give regulators a 30 day window to request further information.  The expiration of the waiting period absent further inquiry means there will be no further anti-trust review.   Legally the transaction is deemed to have satisfied the requirements of the Act.

The deal, which was announced in May and is one of several pending major Internet advertising acquisitions, will likely be closed by the end of the year, at the latest. 

Still in the way of closing are foreign regulatory review and shareholder approval.   Both are largely considered a formality.  aQuantive’s shareholders will vote to approve (or disprove) the deal on August 9th.

Elsewhere, among other still pending Internet advertising acquisitions, Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick is facing heavier scrutiny and a more difficult approval process. That deal, which has more sweeping impact on consumer privacy issues, received an FTC "Second Request" for information in late May and is under fire in Europe from consumer advocate groups which are demanding a closer investigation. Ultimately, it too will likely pass regulatory review but it may take a few more months to clear.


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