When it comes to technology acquisitions, competition probes are fairly typical; as Microsoft or Google would probably attest, it’s kind of a rite of passage. That’s why it’s pretty unsurprising that the Federal Trade Commission
announced is rumored to have launched an antitrust probe into the Facebook-Instagram deal today, a move that is routine for deals over $66 million.
What’s not routine, however, is that a probe could delay the deal from going through–which could in turn delay Facebook’s IPO. (See our update below for more details.)
According to the Financial Times, who cites sources familiar with the situation, a probe will most likely take six to twelve months, but:
Facebook said in its IPO documents last month that it expected the deal to close in the second quarter. “That’s terrifically optimistic,” said David Balto, a former policy director at the FTC who now works as an anti-trust lawyer….Competition experts expect that the Instagram merger will ultimately be approved, but they believe regulators will apply close scrutiny to the deal because of the steep price that Facebook paid and the high profile of the companies.
Does that mean Zuck has been pissing off Wall Streeters with his hoodies all for nothing?
UPDATE: VentureBeat reports, “We have not yet heard that the FTC’s questioning will have any impact on Facebook’s IPO timing.” The IPO is days away, and a probe could put everyone in a massive time crunch. Adds The Next Web, “Facebook’s IPO is scheduled for May 18th and it’s unclear if this situation will run any interference for the process.” We’ll update when we hear more.
We also added “Reported” to the headline, as the FTC has not officially confirmed the FT’s report.