Salesforce’s $37b Slack acquisition gets approved

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The competition regulator has approved the proposed acquisition of collaboration software firm Slack by CRM giant Salesforce for $37 billion, saying the deal was unlikely to lessen competition.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Thursday said it would not oppose the planned acquisition announced by Salesforce last December and still awaiting US regulator approval.

The deal is the biggest in the CRM giant’s 21 year history and will see it compete with Microsoft in another market, with the companies already competing in sales, productivity and data visualisation software.

Salesforce announced a plan to buy Slack for $37 billion in December last year.

The ACCC considered the effect of the acquisition on the supply of CRM solutions and the supply of team collaboration software in Australia during a 50-day review that began in March.

“Salesforce and Slack mostly supply different software with distinct purposes, so there is minimal direct competitive overlap between them,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We focused on whether Salesforce having both CRM and team collaboration solutions could give rise to a substantial lessening of competition.”

Mr Sims said most interested parties raised no concerns with the deal and if Salesforce did engage in anticompetitive bundling or foreclosure customers had several alternatives in the likes of Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and Adobe. Microsoft’s Teams products also offers an alternative to the Slack software he said.

“We consider, due to commercial and reputational risks, that Salesforce would be unlikely to disadvantage competitors by degrading interoperability between Salesforce’s CRM solution and competitors’ team collaboration solutions, or between Slack’s team collaboration solution and competitors’ CRM solutions.”

Salesforce has said it plans to integrate Slack with its Salesforce Customer 360 product. Slack is expected to become the interface for the CRM platform and still be able to integrate with external platforms and systems.

The US Justice Department’s Antitrust Division asked the two companies for more information on the deal in March. While not an unprecedented request, it is another sign the Biden administration is taking a stronger approach to antitrust enforcement.

Salesforce has said it expects the deal to be officially completed by the end of July.

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