Transatlantic row over Oracle's Sun takeover

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The Independent Online

Monopoly watchdogs on either side of the Atlantic are at loggerheads over Oracle's planned $7.8bn (£4.7bn) takeover of rival Sun Microsystems after Europe branded US criticism as "unusual".

The US Department of Justice signed the deal off in August without asking for any concessions, and this week published a formal statement claiming that the merger was unlikely to be anticompetitive as "customers would continue to have choices from a variety of well-established and widely accepted database products".

The European Commission competition spokesman Jonathan Todd responded yesterday that it was not normal for a regulator to comment on proceedings elsewhere. "I cannot recall any instance when the commission has remarked on an ongoing investigation in another jurisdiction," he said. "We have our methods, they have theirs. We apply European merger control rules, they apply US merger control rules."

Europe's Competition Commission is concerned that the competition provided to Oracle's market leading proprietary databases from Sun's MySQL open-source alternative will be eroded by a takeover.

Oracle dismisses the apprehension as evidence of a "profound misunderstanding of both database competition and open-source dynamics" – a claim rejected by the Commission as "facile".

Sun finally agreed to a takeover approach from Oracle last April, after several failed attempts to turn itself around, including last year's $1bn purchase of MySQL – which is used by big names including Google and Amazon.