The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved Facebook's proposed acquisition of image-sharing firm Instagram.
The commission said that a five-member panel had voted unanimously to allow the acquisition to proceed in the US. The decision clears a vital legal hurdle for the deal and allows the companies to move forward with the acquisition without fear of antitrust charges.
"Upon further review of this matter, it now appears that no further action is warranted by the commission at this time. Accordingly, the investigation has been closed," the FTC said in its letter to Facebook's attorneys.
"This action is not to be construed as a determination that a violation may not have occurred, just as the pendency of an investigation should not be construed as a determination that a violation has occurred."
Approval from the FTC follows a similar decision earlier this month by UK antitrust authorities.
The decision marks a step forward in an acquisition process that was kicked off earlier this year when the two companies announced an agreement in which Facebook would pay some $1bn to acquire Instagram.
Experts called the acquisition into question after word surfaced that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg conducted much of the negotiations without permission or input from the company's board of directors.
Deals such as the Instagram buy could play a vital role in Facebook's efforts to overcome financial difficulties and raise revenues in the wake of its lukewarm initial public offering.
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