Server Farming

Jul 16 2009   1:27PM GMT

Oracle-Sun merger likely to take some time, thanks to regulators

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Though Sun shareholders may give the thumbs-up to a merger with Oracle in a meeting today, users shouldn’t expect it to be complete for months, despite Oracle’s claims and hopes.

Two weeks ago, Oracle announced that the U.S. Justice Department had issued a request for more material in its antitrust review of the merger between the two big technology companies. The request, according to Oracle, was regarding the way in which Java is licensed once Sun becomes a part of Oracle. Richard Jones, vice president of data center services for The Burton Group, said that if Oracle were to start changing the Java license, it would be “shooting itself in the foot.”

Oracle added that despite the request, it still hoped to complete the acquisition this summer. But according to a story in the Wall Street Journal, second requests from the Justice Department do not generally happen that quickly. They are measured in months, not days.

In testimony delivered in late 2007, Thomas Barnett, former head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said the average length of a second-request review was 154 days. A similar length of time would have Oracle receiving the Justice Department’s blessing to close the Sun acquisition no sooner than late November.

Some antitrust experts say second-request investigations can take even longer. John Harkrider, an antitrust practice co-chair at the law firm Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP, who has been retained by the Justice Department to investigate antitrust issues in the past, said he advises clients to allow for six to nine months for such reviews.

“If you move heaven and earth to comply, you should certainly be able to do it within six months,” Harkrider said.

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