Oracle-Sun merger gains favor with EU | Shanghai Daily

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December 15, 2009

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Oracle-Sun merger gains favor with EU

EUROPEAN Union regulators changed tack yesterday on Oracle Corp's takeover of Sun Microsystems Inc, saying the company's pledges to database customers were "an important new element" - a signal it could approve the deal without forcing a sell-off.

The European Commission is holding up the US$7.4 billion deal over worries that it would give Oracle too much control over the database software market.

European regulators have a January 27 deadline to decide whether to approve the takeover or block it. They say they are concerned Oracle will gain control of open source database company MySQL, which they claim will increasingly pose a threat to Oracle's own proprietary database software.

Regulators earlier said they were concerned that Oracle could refuse to license MySQL to some companies or for some uses to favor its own software - which could limit customer choice and ultimately hike prices. Sun paid US$1 billion for MySQL last year.

Companies often soothe antitrust worries by selling off units or making promises to change the way they operate to avoid anti-competitive damage to rivals or customers.

In a statement, the EU's executive said it has had "constructive discussions" with Oracle about keeping MySQL as an important competitive force in the database market after Oracle buys Sun.

It said Oracle made several commitments to MySQL's customers, developers and users and this was "an important new element to be taken into account."

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said she was "optimistic" the case could have a satisfactory outcome and not harm competition in Europe.

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