|By Maureen O'Gara||
|January 21, 2010 09:30 AM EST||
Mergers & Acquisitions on Ulitzer
Everybody and his brother expect the European Commission to rubber stamp Oracle’s acquisition of Sun any minute now but when it didn’t happen Tuesday like it was reportedly supposed to we asked why not and were told – you’re gonna love this – that it was because antitrust czarina Neelie Kroes screwed up her confirmation hearing last week as Europe’s Digital Agenda commissar and didn’t want to upset her chances of getting the job by waving through an acquisition that is increasingly unpopular with the digital agenda constituency by underscoring the EC’s toothless response to it, or so they say.
So she sat on it.
But then the confirmation vote on the new EU commissioners was moved from January 26, the day before the EC’s Snoracle deadline, to February 9 so Neelie had to relent. Approval is supposedly due by the end of the week.
Neelie also got herself a rare closed-door hearing do-over Tuesday – reportedly over the objections of EC president José Manuel Barroso – and reportedly had sharper answers the second time through although that’s still no guarantee she’ll get the job.
Meanwhile, the number of Russian and Chinese names on the petition objecting to the Oracle-MySQL combine that’s being circulated by MySQL founder Monty Widenius has mounted to over 10% of its 33,500+ signatures.
The Russian and Chinese regulators are Monty’s last hope of throwing a money wrench into Oracle’s plans.
In a parting shot at the EC’s assumed stance, Widenius – who once had great hopes that the EC would block the acquisition – excoriated the agency saying, “The EC showed courage and competence during most of the investigation but looked very weak in the end. Mislabeling Oracle’s statements related to MySQL as a solution is a dishonest attempt to save face because if an Oracle press release with uselessly vague promises should be all that came out of this effort, it was a waste of time and money. They asked us and others for information that wasn’t going to matter in the end. We met with the EC on the 7th and the only point they had in favor of clearance was that Sun is in trouble and they’d have to consider that circumstance. That is no argument at all under competition law because Oracle could have divested MySQL and acquired the rest of Sun anytime. Should Oracle get MySQL unconditionally, then I can only say that as a European I am ashamed of our regulatory system.”
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