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Microsoft’s $26 billion LinkedIn acquisition will close in the coming days

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The massive buyout has been cleared by regulators

LinkedIn Microsoft

Microsoft has gained all necessary regulatory clearance for its acquisition of LinkedIn, the company announced today, and the massive deal is set to close “in the coming days.” The European Commission was the last hurdle remaining after officials in the US, Canada, and elsewhere had already approved the $26.2 billion all-cash buyout.

Microsoft had to make several commitments — outlined in this blog post from president and chief legal officer Brad Smith — regarding its “support for third-party professional social networking services” to have the European Commission clear the deal. Most of them pertain to keeping Office open to competitors, as had been rumored.

The Microsoft-LinkedIn deal was announced back in June, and at the time Microsoft said it hoped to close the acquisition by year’s end. It has met that goal with today’s announcement. In Microsoft’s own words, the combination brings together “the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network.”

But it’s about more than networking and enterprise collaboration, according to Smith. His blog post mentions both the Brexit vote and recent US presidential election as evidence that “many people feel left out and unable to participate in the economic growth and opportunities created by the rising digital economy.”

While technology tools are not a panacea for current economic challenges, we believe they can make an important contribution. Microsoft and LinkedIn together have a bigger opportunity to help people online to develop and earn credentials for new skills, identify and pursue new jobs, and become more creative and productive as they work with their colleagues. Working together we can do more to serve not only those with college degrees, but the many people pursuing new experiences, skills and credentials related to vocational training and so-called middle skills. Our ambition is to do our part to create more opportunity for people who haven’t shared in recent economic growth.

LinkedIn’s 433 million members (2 million of them paid subscribers) and social graph closely align with the software and services Microsoft provides. And though some of us bemoan the pestering emails and largely ignore our LinkedIn profiles, they’re about to become much more important in the world of Office.