Eye on Oracle

Dec 15 2009   10:26PM GMT

Oracle concessions edge European Commission closer to approving Sun deal

Ed Scannell Ed Scannell Profile: Ed Scannell

It’s almost done.

After three months of investigation, and some pointed exchanges between the two along the way, it appears Oracle and the European Commission are on the verge of settling their differences over Oracle’s proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Earlier today the EC issued a statement indicating Oracle had made a number of concessions that eased its antitrust concerns, and were now “optimistic” that such a deal would not pose a threat to the European database market, according to a story in the New York Times.

According to the report, Oracle has agreed to protect the viability of the MySQL open source database, meaning it would not discontinue it or otherwise not support and maintain it as well as they could, thereby opening up more opportunity for Oracle’s own proprietary database.

Neelie Kroes, the EU’s Competition Commissioner, said that Oracle has made “significant” commitments to support MySQL, and that once Oracle takes over MySQL promises to extend MySQL’s existing licenses for up to five years. Oracle will also pledge to make guarantees to end user organizations and individuals now using MySQL that it will not pursue intellectual property claims, according to the Times story.

In a statement Kroes said she believed the commission’s investigation would have “a satisfactory outcome.”

Another concession by Oracle involves spending over $72 million spread over the next three years on research and development that would go towards improving MySQL, a sum Oracle has claims is more money than Sun itself had spent on developing the program.

Also, Oracle promises to spend more than $72 million over the next three years in research and development to improve and refine MySQL, which Oracle said was more money than Sun had been spending on developing the program.

While the parties seem to be a matter of days from finalizing an agreement, some European observers quoted in the Times story caution that the deal is not a certainty and will not be until both parties jointly announce it.

There was no indication in the EU’s statement or  from Oracle officials  when the EU’s approval of the Sun acquisition would formally be announced.

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