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EU opens antitrust probe of Oracle's bid for Sun Microsystems
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08:06, September 04, 2009

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The European Commission on Thursday opened an antitrust investigation of business software giant Oracle's 7.4-billion-dollar bid for Sun Microsystems.

"Initial market investigation indicated that the proposed acquisition would raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the single market because of competition concerns on the market for databases," the European Union's anti-trust watchdog said in a statement.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said the commission had to examine carefully the effects on competition in Europe when Oracle, the world's leading proprietary database company, proposed to take over Sun, the world's leading open source database firm.

"The commission has an obligation to ensure that customers would not face reduced choice or higher prices as a result of this takeover," she said.

The commission said the proposed transaction would bring together two major competitors in the market for databases.

"In the current economic context, all companies are looking for cost-effective IT solutions and systems based on open-source software are increasingly emerging as viable alternatives to proprietary solutions," Kroes said. "The commission has to ensure that such alternatives would continue to be available."

Oracle is active in the development, manufacture and distribution of company software, including database software and business application software and related services.

Sun offers computing infrastructure, including server and storage solutions and middleware and database software.

The commission's preliminary market investigation has shown that Oracle's databases and Sun's MySQL compete directly in many sectors of the database market and that MySQL is widely expected to represent a greater competitive constraint as it becomes increasingly functional.

EU spokesman Jonathan Todd said a key issue for regulators "is the extent to which open source software developers would be able to continue to develop products based on the open source MySQL database."

However, the deal won approval from U.S. antitrust regulators in August. The commission now has 90 working days, until Jan. 19, 2010, to make a final decision. It often presses companies to make changes that eliminate antitrust worries, such as selling off parts of their business.


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