EU urged to speed up Oracle review

Associated Press / November 25, 2009

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SAN FRANCISCO - US senators are pressuring European antitrust regulators to hurry their investigation of Oracle Corp.’s proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc., citing Sun’s “precarious’’ financial condition and fears about more layoffs at the struggling computing company.

A group of 59 senators outlined the concerns in a letter to the European Commission, which has held up the $7.4 billion deal over worries that Oracle would be too dominant in the market for database software.

Oracle is the leader in proprietary database software - which means its underlying code is kept private - while Sun’s MySQL division makes the number one open-source database. Companies use database software to manage large stockpiles of information, such as payroll data.

The Oracle-Sun combination would be one of the biggest technology deals of the year, and was cleared in August by the US Department of Justice. This month, though, the European Commission notified the companies of its objection to the deal. Oracle and Sun are appealing that ruling. EU regulators have until Jan. 27 to wrap up that review.

Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, the lead author of the letter, said further delay “threatens thousands of American jobs, so we felt compelled to ask for a speedy resolution.’’

Both companies had hoped the deal would close this past summer.