Oracle Gets New Hearing Date with EC, Users Group Adds Support

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-11-23
 
 
 

Oracle has requested and received a six-business-day extension from the European Commission for its final date on deciding whether to sanction the company's plan to buy Sun Microsystems.

As a result, the final day for the EC to make a decision as to whether Oracle can do business in the 27-nation European Union is now Jan. 27, 2010. It is possible, however, that the EC could make a decision sooner.

The request, granted Nov. 20, also set back to Dec. 10 a previously set Nov. 25 date for a hearing in Brussels, in which Oracle was to argue its case to EC commissioners that annexing Sun would not materially affect the world's enterprise parallel database market.

Sun owns the code base and steers the international community of the MySQL database, Oracle's largest open-source competitor.

EC regulators are concerned about Oracle owning such a popular competing product-MySQL's installed base has been estimated at anywhere between 6 million and 20 million-and possibly slowing down or stopping its development.

The EC handed down a formal objection to the sale on Nov. 9. The U.S. Department of Justice, charged with enforcing antitrust laws in the United States, approved the deal last August, four months after the $7.4 billion acquisition deal was announced.

Oracle wanted the extension to allow it more time to respond to the commission's concerns about the merger, the commission said.

Oracle is investing a serious amount of money and time into this venture, which would immediately transform the Redwood City, Calif.-based enterprise database and middleware company into one of the world's top 10 IT systems providers.

Meanwhile, CEO Larry Ellison claims that MySQL doesn't compete directly with Oracle's proprietary databases. He also said Sun is losing $100 million and thousands of jobs a month as customers old and new put sales on hold until they find out the fate of the company: Will it go to Oracle, or not?

Oracle users' group campaigns for the deal

In another recent development, the 20,000-member Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) sent a letter on Nov. 11 to EC Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes making it clear they support the sale.

Here are some excerpts from the letter to Kroes, signed by IOUG President Ian Abramson:

As President of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG), composed of over 20,000 international database and technology professionals representing companies, government agencies and educational institutions, I felt that it was important to provide commentary on the recent European Commission objection to the Oracle acquisition of Sun. Formally, I would like to express the IOUG's strong support for the proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Inc. by Oracle Corporation.

The recent objections that have emerged from the EU, focused on the MySQL Database and the inference that through this acquisition, competition will be reduced in the database industry does not make sense to individuals like me or others in my community who support the profession.  On behalf of IOUG, we believe this acquisition will not reduce competition or innovation in the community.  In fact, we believe competition will increase.

We anticipate that Oracle will continue to foster innovation and openness with MySQL following the acquisition and not hinder competition. Oracle has acquired numerous other companies in the past and has built on the strength of each to foster its growth. Oracle has previously acquired databases and has continued to support and enhance them, while providing critical business support. The acquisitions of TimesTen, Berkeley DB and Hyperion Essbase illustrate this very well.

By not approving this acquisition, the EU's decisions are actually diminishing competition by making a significant impact on Sun and its ability to remain competitive.

It is important that this transaction be completed as soon as possible. The delay in approving the deal is impacting the companies who the IOUG represents.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to change the date of the next Oracle-EC hearing to Dec. 10 from Dec. 4.

Rocket Fuel