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U.S. committee reviews Zoom’s planned $14.7 billion Five9 acquisition


Zoom founder Eric Yuan speaks before the Nasdaq opening bell ceremony in New York on April 18, 2019.

Kena Betancur | Getty Images

A U.S. government committee is reviewing Zoom’s agreement to acquire cloud contact center software company Five9 for $14.7 billion on national-security grounds.

According to a letter dated Aug. 27, and posted on the Federal Communications Commission’s website, the FCC was asked to refer the case to the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Service Sector. The committee is headed by Attorney General Merrick Galrland of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Zoom announced the deal with Five9 in July, marking the video-chat company’s first billion-dollar-plus acquisition. Zoom’s stock price exploded during the pandemic. Five9 has provided Five9 with technology that will allow Zoom to enter new markets.

Zoom’s founder Eric Yuan is from China and is the CEO. The company has a significant research and development hub in China, and last year House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California referred to Zoom as “a Chinese entity” during an MSNBC interview.

In a letter to FCC, David Plotinsky, from the Justice Department wrote that the USDOJ believed such risk was raised by foreign participation (including foreign ownership). A review by the Committee would be necessary in order to evaluate and make a recommendation on how the Commission should decide this application.

A spokesperson for Zoom stated that the company expects to complete the acquisition in the first quarter of 2022.

A representative for Zoom stated, “We have submitted the necessary regulatory filings and approval processes are progressing as anticipated.” The spokesperson for Five9 declined to comment.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the letter to the FCC earlier on Tuesday.

Trump signed an executive order in 2020 to formalize the composition of the committee that wrote and sent this letter. Formerly called Team Telecom the committee advises the FCC about potential threats to telecommunications infrastructures. It’s separate from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which has blocked Chinese entities from buying U.S. companies.

In its latest earnings report in August, Zoom acknowledged that the business could face risks related to Five9’s operations in Russia.

Zoom explained that Five9 will be managing its international operations. This includes engineering personnel as well as operations in Russia. These risks could present regulatory, economic, and political challenges.

Zoom executives said they expect 31% revenue growth in the current quarter, down from from growth above 300% last year. Five9 reported 44% growth in the most recent quarter.

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