|By Maureen O'Gara||
|November 4, 2009 04:45 PM EST||
The European Commission is about to object formally to Oracle's multibillion-dollar acquisition of Sun because Oracle is hanging tough and refusing to make any concessions concerning the open source database MySQL, a potential Oracle rival as the EC sees it, according to the Financial Times.
The paper says a statement of objection (SO) could be issued in the next few days unless one side or the other blinks.
After the FT's story appeared an EC spokesman repeated the agency's position: It's concerned about database market, Oracle isn't being constructive in providing evidence the deal wasn't anti-competitive, the process continues. So the EC neither confirmed nor denied the FT piece.
Oracle could be waiting to see exactly how the EC's articulates its concerns either so it doesn't give away more than it has to or so it can take the EC to court. Oracle won a court battle over PeopleSoft against the US Department of Justice after the DOJ objected to its acquisition of the company but it may not be reckoning with the EC's reality distortion field.
Former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos, who testifying in favor of the acquisition before the EC a few weeks ago, hangs with the crowd that says that even if Oracle rolls over on MySQL the database is still safe as a viable business because it can be forked. He says Amazon just demonstrated that by rolling out its MySQL-based RDBMS "in a way that is entirely independent of who owns the MySQL assets."
The last time the EC blocked two U.S. companies from merging was in 2001 when it stopped GE from buying Honeywell. Like Oracle-Sun, GE-Honeywell was approved by the Justice Department. It created a lot of bad blood between the agencies that they subsequently tried to overcome with more coordination.
The EC has been blamed for Sun continuing to lose $100 million a month and for forcing it to lay off 3,000 worldwide in the next 12 months. There are now fears for its survival. Either an SO or an Oracle legal challenge would prolong its term in limbo. Oracle could also walk although that's not Larry Ellison's style.
Meanwhile, Oracle last Friday withdrew its August 4 filing for clearance with the Russian regulators. The Wall Street Journal suggests Russia's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) didn't want to step on the EC's toes but the Russian rules say that a deal has to close within 90 day of notice to the FAS so it seems it was withdraw or face rejection.
Oracle claims MySQL competes with Microsoft SQL Server, but what it means is that it doesn't want to see anybody else get it. If someone else does get it then Oracle could make it a target.
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