Here comes trouble for Oracle. The European Commission is extending its probe into the $7.4 billion takeover of Sun, the New York Times reports.
Neelie Kroes, the European Union’s competition commissioner, expressed concern about MySQL, the open source database that competes with Oracle's SQL products. If the merger means that Oracle slowly drains the air out of MySQL, European business would lose a free, robust option, Kroes said.
“In the current economic context, all companies are looking for cost-effective technologies,” Ms. Kroes said, referring to open-source software. “Systems based on open-source software are increasingly emerging as viable alternatives to proprietary solutions.” She said a longer investigation was needed “to ensure that such alternatives would continue to be available.”
But the U.S. Department of Justice has approved the deal, so this EU action could mean stormy seas for trans-Atlantic relations.
“Europeans still have a lot more concerns than Americans about companies using strong or dominant positions to create a bottlenecks for competitors in the information and technology sectors,” said Peter Alexiadis, a partner at the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, who is based in Brussels.
“Any whiff of dominance over different platforms used to deliver information raises particular concerns,” he said. “This may in part explain why Europeans, who are used to multiple business traditions, might be less inclined to view Oracle’s traditional strengths in databases as not posing competitive concerns.”
The Europeans are obviously concerned about what will happen to MySQL but ICD analyst Bo Lykkegaard told the Times MySQL was not Oracle's highest priority, and in any case the open source software expands Oracle's reach into SMEs and enterprise operations not viewed as mission-critical.