Facebook given green light to buy WhatsApp
EU regulators have given the go-ahead for the social networking site Facebook to buy the mobile messenger service WhatsApp.
The decision clears the way for a fiercely opposed $19bn (£11.9bn) deal.
The deal has been disputed by telecom companies, worried about the growing power of US technology companies.
In a statement explaining its decision the European Commission said that Facebook and WhatsApp were "not close competitors".
The deal is the largest in Facebook's 10-year history and will give the most popular social networking site a foothold in mobile messaging.
European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said: "We have carefully reviewed this proposed acquisition and come to the conclusion that it would not hamper competition in this dynamic and growing market.
"Consumers will continue to have a wide choice of consumer communications apps."
WhatsApp and its rivals such as KakaoTalk, Viber and China's WeChat have in recent years won over telecoms operators' customers with a free text messaging option.
Mobile messaging services totalled about $120 billion last year, posing a serious threat to the telecoms sector's revenue, according to market researcher Ovum.