European Union Concerned About Oracle Buying Sun

Lora Bentley

The U.S. is fine with Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, but apparently the European Union has some questions. Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the European Commission has launched a full investigation. Regulators have "serious doubts" about the competitiveness of the database market if the acquisition closes. And it's not even Sun's hardware that's giving them pause.


Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes explained, "The commission has to examine very carefully the effects on competition in Europe when the world's leading proprietary database company proposes to take over the world's leading open source database company." Sun's MySQL database is the problem. At least one analyst says the investigation "increases the risk that Sun will have to divest [MySQL]" before the deal wll be approved.


Others suggest the commission will approve the acquisition "with conditions."


In an e-mail, Matthew Aslett of The 451 Group told me the investigation does increase the risk that Sun will have to sell off MySQL. However, he added, "I would be surprised if the Commission reached that decision given MySQL's limited market share, although much will depend on what Oracle tells the Commission it plans to do with MySQL. We have said from day one that we think MySQL is worth more to Oracle alive than dead."


In his own blog, Aslett suggests that the bigger competitive threat is not MySQL itself but the "ecosystem of commercial vendors that use MySQL to compete with Oracle." The Commission may be considering this issue as well, but it has yet to make a decision.

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