Oracle pledge may break Sun Microsystems logjam at EC

After months of stand-off with European regulators over its proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Oracle yesterday pledged to address their concerns on the maintenance of MySQL.

Threatening to derail one of the biggest tech deals of this year, the European Union's Brussels-based antitrust watchdog, the European Commission (EC) had issued a statement of objections on 10 November 2009, drawing criticism not only from Oracle but also US regulators. (See: EU regulator lists objections to Oracle-Sun merger)

The EC had issued a formal charge sheet spelling out its concerns on the merger since the combination of Sun's open source MySQL database product with Oracle's enterprise database products could have potential negative effects on the $20 billion global market for database products, which are used by start ups and established web businesses.

In response to the EC objections, the California-based Oracle, had refused to make any concessions saying, "The commission's statement of objections reveal a profound misunderstanding of both database competition and open-source dynamics."
The EC's oblections came despite the approval of US  Department of Justice to the deal in August. (See: Oracle's acquisition of Sun approved by US justice dept)

Oracle had said  that the database market was intensely competitive with at least eight strong players, including IBM, Microsoft, Sybase and three distinct open source vendors and Oracle and MySQL were very different database products. Therefore, the US firm contended, there was no basis in European law for objecting to a merger of two among eight firms selling differentiated products. Mergers like this occur regularly and have not been prohibited by US or European regulators in decades, it pointed out.

In April, weeks after a reported agreement by IBM to buy Sun Microsystems fell apart, Oracle stepped in to acquire Sun Microsystems, which invented the Java programming language, for $7.4 billion, - $400-million over the price offered by IBM (See: IBM set to acquire Sun Micro for about $7 billion: report).