Take stock – June 20

The Federal Trade Commission is letting software giant Microsoft Corp. proceed with its largest deal ever, a $8.5 billion bid for web chat and call service Skype.

Microsoft receives OK to proceed with Skype bid

The Federal Trade Commission is letting software giant Microsoft Corp. proceed with its largest deal ever, a $8.5 billion bid for web chat and call service Skype.

The FTC announced Friday that it had finished its review of the buyout so it can proceed if the Department of Justice also approves. Both agencies must review any deal worth more than $65.2 million, according to the FTC.

Microsoft already has a Skype-like service called Windows Live. But Skype lets users of different kinds of computers and phones chat directly. The deal could enable Microsoft to sell more digital advertising and offer more popular business conferencing tools.

Microsoft’s bid is more than three times Skype’s value 18 months ago when eBay Inc. sold a two-thirds stake to private equity firm Silver Lake.


New consumer safety law takes effect today

OTTAWA — New rules giving the federal government the power to remove unsafe products from store shelves take effect Monday after years of hold-ups. Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Act was proclaimed into law a year ago after years of being stalled in the legislative process, including objections in the Senate, and because of the frequency of federal elections. Starting Monday, when the law comes into force, federal ministers will be granted new powers to pull unsafe toys, sporting goods, cribs and some other household products off the shelves instead of just requesting producers do so.

The act does not affect products such as autos and their integral parts, food or drugs. They come under other legislation. Under the old act, the government can only request that suppliers take action. A government official said the new rules put Canada more in line with how other countries, particularly the United States, deal with unsafe products.

As well, Ottawa will be able to require that manufacturers and importers provide test and study results on their products, and report serious incidents. The act also allows the government to prevent the importation of products believed to pose a danger to the public. It took too long to make the changes said Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers Association of Canada, an organization that has lobbied incessantly for passage of the act.

The inadequacy of the old law were brought home in 2009 with the recall of Canadian-made Stork Craft baby cribs following reports of more than a dozen incidents, including four child suffocations. Canada only learned of the incidents from U.S. regulators.