November 17, 2009 / 11:36 AM / 10 years ago

EU Commission says still probing Oracle, Sun deal

BRUSSELS, Nov 17 (Reuters) - EU antitrust authorities continue to examine Oracle’s ORCL.O plan to buy Sun Microsystems JAVA.O over which there are competition concerns, a senior European Commission official said on Tuesday. Oracle, the world’s No. 2 maker of business software, has already received U.S. regulatory approval for its $7 billion acquisition of Sun and is now awaiting a decision from the European Commission, due by Jan. 19.

The Commission, the EU’s competition watchdog, has objected to the combination of Sun’s MySQL database product and Oracle’s products, saying it could hurt competition in the database market, Sun said earlier this month. [ID:nN09279609]

Asked about the case at an industry conference, Philip Lowe, director-general at the Commission’s competition unit, said: “We haven’t completed our investigations on the merger you mentioned. We have issued a statement of objections and we will carry on in our normal European fashion.”

In a rare rebuke to its European counterpart, The U.S. Justice Department said on Nov. 9 that the Oracle deal was unlikely to be anti-competitive and that consumers would be able to choose from a variety of products after any merger.

Saying such comments were “unusual”, the Commission has said it has never remarked on cases in other jurisdictions. It has also said it has different evidence from that of the Justice Department.

“Both we and the U.S. agencies, where possible, look for remedies which deal with specific problems. I hope we can also look at present cases in that light,” Lowe said.

The last time the two regulators issued different decisions on a merger was in 2000 when U.S. authorities cleared General Electric Co’s (GE.N) takeover of Honeywell. The deal was blocked by the Commission on antitrust grounds in 2001. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Luke Baker)

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