The Justice Division is asking for extra info on Salesforce’s $ 27 billion deal for Slack

Marc Benioff

Katie Kramer | CNBC

The Justice Department’s antitrust division has asked Salesforce and Slack for more information before Salesforce plans to buy the smaller software company for $ 27 billion, Salesforce said Tuesday.

The development could indicate that important technology transactions are being examined more closely under the Biden administration.

Despite the additional level of evaluation, Salesforce expects the deal for Slack to close in the quarter ended July 31, according to a regulatory filing.

The review known as the Second Inquiry is not unprecedented: GE’s 2017 acquisition of Baker Hughes, Charles Schwab’s TD Ameritrade deal for 2020, and Anheuser-Busch’s 2020 deal with Craft Brew Alliance, in which the Kona Brewing’s Hawaiian operations sold to another company faced similar inquiries.

There are signs that the US may take a stronger approach to antitrust enforcement than it did under Barack Obama, CNBC reported in January. In Congress, Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who became chair of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee this month, proposed a major anti-trust enforcement reform.

Salesforce and Slack didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The proposed deal, which would be Salesforce’s biggest yet, would bring together two companies both trying to challenge Microsoft, the world’s largest software company.

Slack has emerged as a trending tool for colleagues to chat with over the past few years. While the company’s product became more widely used during the coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft gets the competing team app that companies get when they pay for Office 365 productivity software subscriptions has shown more visible growth. In July, Slack announced it had filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained a bullet point that incorrectly identified the company that had filed an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. It was Slack, as correctly stated in the main part of the story.

SEE: Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield on Salesforce deal: “We’ve got a lot of momentum now”

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