Eye on Oracle

Jan 20 2010   4:37PM GMT

Oracle and the European Commission head down the home stretch

Ed Scannell Ed Scannell Profile: Ed Scannell

Oracle and the European Commission (EC) continue to slowly and painfully creep closer to  resolving its conflict over the former’s nine-month long attempt to acquire Sun Microsystems.

According to various news reports over the past couple of days, both parties are close to announcing a deal that could come as soon as this week. The EC’s deadline for issuing its ruling is January 27, but sources cited in most reports indicate it likely will be formally announced by week’s end.

What’s something of a mystery is what exactly has held this deal up since mid-December. About six weeks ago the EC issued a statement that Oracle had made a number of breakthrough concessions that had addressed all of its concerns, most of which focused on Oracle’s proposed ownership of the open source MySQL database. The agency was “optimistic” that the proposed $7.4 billion acquisition posed no threat to the European database market. With that statement many felt a formal announcement was just a day or two away.

And then — nothing.

Hopefully we can chalk this latest delay up to the umm, mercurial nature of the EC and nothing more. If this delay centered around issues other than MySQL, that would be rather unfortunate at this late date.

But reports indicate that both parties really are ready this time to end this long, strange dance. What is giving recent reports added credence is Sun reportedly readying three different email announcements to be delivered to its employees in the next day or two. One e-mail will be to those employees letting them know they will be keeping their jobs, a second will go to those who will be terminated, and the third will be sent to those being offered a temporary position that will last through an undetermined transition period.

There is no indication from reports how many Sun employees will receive e-mail Number 2. There were scattered reports last month that Oracle planned to eliminate half of Sun employees after it acquired the company. Those reports were quickly followed by a public statement from Oracle chairman Larry Ellison that there was no way they would cut that many jobs and that his company would be depending on Sun employees more than ever to make this deal work.

Let’s hope for the sake of the sake of Sun employees many, many more receive e-mail Number One.

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