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25 November 2009, 13:30

US senators ask European Commission to speed up Sun takeover investigation

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59 US senators have asked the European Commission to conclude its anti-trust investigation into software company Oracle's takeover of IT business Sun Microsystems as rapidly as possible. In a letter to Angelos Pangratis, EU representative in the US capital Washington D.C., they note that, following an intense investigation, the merger agreed in April has already been approved without reservation by the US Department of Justice, which found no evidence that the takeover would harm competition.

The senators, led by former Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry and Republican Orrin Hatch point out that, in the database market – the subject of the EU's concern – Sun has an annual turnover of just €17 million, compared to competitors with turnovers of "tens of billions" in this market. The senators add that, while the European Commission has been carrying out its investigations, Sun's financial situation has deteriorated and there are fears that the company may not be able to retain all of its staff. In view of this, they call for the European Commission to conclude its investigations as quickly as possible.

The European Commission's decision to launch a detailed investigation into the takeover was announced on 10th November. For the Commission, the key concern is that the sale of the copyright to MySQL, currently owned by Sun, may reduce the range of products available to customers and increase prices. Since open source-based systems represent an increasingly economical alternative to proprietary software for businesses, the commission considers itself bound to ensure that such alternatives remain available. Oracle is claiming that, as an open source program, MySQL is under no-one's control.

John Kerry is now pointing out that seven months have passed since the merger between Oracle and Sun was agreed, without Europe having come to a final decision. With thousands of US jobs on the line, the senators "felt compelled to ask for a speedy resolution." A statement from Kerry's colleague Hatch was more abrasive, stating that he is "increasingly concerned about the growing body of evidence that foreign regulatory agencies are unfairly using their review processes to impede the business of American corporations."

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