Facebook gets FTC clearance for Instagram acquisition

The FTC clearance was the last antiturst hurdle for the deal which was cleared last week in the U.K.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has cleared Facebook's proposed acquisition of mobile photo-sharing service Instagram in an unanimous vote, FTC said on Wednesday.

The clearance, which comes about a week after the U.K. Office of Fair Trading cleared the deal, paves the way for Facebook to complete the acquisition of the online photo-sharing company.

After the FTC clearance, Facebook does not have any antitrust reviews pending on the proposed acquisition, a spokesman said.

FTC said in a statement that it had voted 5-0 to close its nonpublic investigation into the antitrust implications of the proposed acquisition.

"We are pleased that the Federal Trade Commission has cleared the transaction after its careful and thorough review," Facebook said in a statement.

Facebook announced in April that it was buying Instagram for US$1 billion in cash and stock. It subsequently clarified that it would pay $300 million in cash and close to 23 million shares of its common stock. "The value of the equity component of the final purchase price will be determined for accounting purposes based on the fair value of our common stock on the closing date," Facebook said in a regulatory filing in end July. At current prices of its shares, which have seen a drop, the deal could be more in the $750 million range.

"We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook," wrote founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg while announcing the proposed acquisition.

Instagram, which was launched in October 2010, said recently that its community has grown to over 80 million registered users who have shared nearly 4 billion photos.

Facebook said in its regulatory filing that it expected the deal to close this year. It said that after the acquisition, it planned to maintain Instagram's products as independent mobile applications to enhance its photos product offerings and "to enable users to increase their levels of mobile engagement and photo sharing."

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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