Facebook has reportedly approached the European Commission to investigate its $19bn (£11.3bn) acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp in a bid to avoid multiple antitrust investigations in different European countries.

The news comes from the Wall Street Journal, which quotes people familiar with the matter. National authorities have been informed by the Commission, which is the EU's antitrust arm.

The deal, which was announced back in February, has already been approved by US regulators. It is understood that a number of national competition authorities were considering investigating the huge deal, and the move by Facebook is a bid to avoid complex, messy and time-consuming individual investigations.

The deal is one of the biggest in the technology sector in recent years, dwarfing the social network's $1bn acquisition of Instagram a year earlier and the $2bn acquisition of virtual reality gaming company Oculus VR in March.

IBTimes UK has contacted Facebook to confirm or comment on the reports but at the time of publication, the company had yet to respond.

The European Commission has not commented on the report.