Not all Beltway pro-free market think tanks think alike. While the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise condemns Oracle Corp.s attempt to acquire PeopleSoft Inc. and filed a letter with the U.S. Justice Department Tuesday asking it to block the hostile takeover bid, the Competitive Enterprise Institute supports letting the deal shake out as it will without government intervention.
The CEI, which vehemently opposed the Justice Departments antitrust actions against Microsoft, wants the government to stay out of Oracle-PeopleSoft as well.
"This could be the next big Microsoft type of case," said Braden Cox, technology counsel for the Washington-based institute. Cox said the CEIs position is that government should stand aside and let the natural mechanisms of the business world play out rather than make any moves to block the deal or hold up the deal to a lenghty antitrust review.
"In the fast-paced technology world, any decision [government anti-trust regulators] make is yesterdays news by the time they get to it," said Cox. "In the meantime, it imposes a significant cost on a lot of organizations."
The CDFE, which generally takes similar pro-free market positions as the CEI, is opposing Oracles hostile takeover bid because it sees it as little more than a ploy by Oracle to destabilize PeopleSoft and thwart PeopleSofts friendly takeover of J.D. Edwards & Co. Cox dismissed those concerns.
"They may be doing it for that reason, but that still wouldnt be anti-consumer," he said.
Cox said mergers and acquisitions arent all good for business, pointing to the AOL-TimeWarner deal as one that flopped when it was supposed to succeed. But he said in a free-market economy, companies should decide their own fate, not government regulators.
"Even if companies make mistakes, its better to let that happen, than to have regulators make the mistakes," he said. "When you let the free market operate then you truly see a free enterprise."
Cox did find it ironic though that Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison could soon find himself in the crosshairs of antitrust regulators.
"Its interesting, Larry Ellisons always been a big thorn in [Microsoft Chairman and CEO] Bill Gates side when Microsoft was under antitrust scrutiny. Now hes seeing [antitrust scrutiny] put against him."