Oracle May Have Thawed EU's Objections to Sun Acquisition

European Commission nods optimistically at Oracle’s promises to boost investment in MySQL and extend commercial licenses.

December 14, 2009

D.H. Kass

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A favorable response by Oracle Corp. to anti-trust objections raised by the watchdog European Commission has improved the vendor’s chances of garnering regulatory approval of its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc.

The Commission issued a statement in which it “confirmed that it has engaged in constructive discussions with Oracle regarding the maintenance of MySQL as an important competitive force in the database market.”

While the U.S. Department of Justice last August granted approval to Oracle to proceed with its acquisition of Sun, the EU, in an initial review, cast some doubt on the proceedings, expressing pointed concern that Oracle’s database products and Sun’s MySQL database could tilt that market’s competitive landscape and result in higher prices.

However, the Commission said that Oracle has submitted “new facts” to support its case, upping its investment in MySQL by committing to “binding contractual undertakings to storage engine vendors regarding copyright non-assertion and the extension over a period of up to five years of the terms and conditions of existing commercial licenses.”

Accordingly, competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes reiterated her optimistic statement of last week that the case will have a “satisfactory outcome, while ensuring that the transaction will not have an adverse impact on effective competition in the European database market.”

The Commission said that it will adopt the final proposal of Commissioner Kroes after consulting with an advisory committee comprised of competition authorities.

The EU’s deadline to decide the case is January 27, 2010.

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