EU clears Oracle-Sun deal

The European Commission has formally and unconditionally approved Oracle’s takeover of Sun Microsyst

The EU originally launched an investigation into the deal in September 2009 amid concerns that the deal would prove anticompetitive, as the takeover of Sun would give Oracle ownership of the open source MySQL database alongside its own closed source database products.

"The Commission's in-depth investigation showed that although MySQL and Oracle compete in certain parts of the database market, they are not close competitors in others, such as the high-end segment," said an EU statement. "The Commission's investigation showed that another open source database, PostgreSQL, is considered by many database users to be a credible alternative to MySQL and could be expected to replace to some extent the competitive force currently exerted by MySQL on the database market."

Opposition to the acquisition was strong from within the open source community and MySQL co-founder Monty Widenius recently set up a website to raise awareness about the potential conflict of interest that would arise if the deal went through.

"Given the specificities of the open source software industry, the Commission also took into account Oracle's public announcement of 14 December 2009 of a series of pledges to customers, users and developers of MySQL concerning issues such as the continued release of future versions of MySQL under the GPL (General Public Licence) open source licence," the EU confirmed.

The campaign has recently shifted to Russia and China but Oracle is very confident that the deal will still win regulatory approval there as well. "Oracle expects unconditional approval from China and Russia and intends to close the transaction shortly," the company said in a statement.

David Axmark, MySQL's other co-founder, recently told CBR that he thought Oracle would have no grounds to continue to its support if the deal was to go through. "I do believe that Oracle has no real reason to support MySQL. I don't think the competition between them was enormous, but it is growing and has been growing for a number of years. I don't think it's healthy for Oracle to continue to grow it," he said.

"I am now satisfied that competition and innovation will be preserved on all the markets concerned. Oracle's acquisition of Sun has the potential to revitalise important assets and create new and innovative products," said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.