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Will China or Russia Block the Oracle-Sun Deal?

· Java Zone

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With the European Commission expected to green-light the Oracle-Sun deal as early as this week, the future is looking bright for Oracle, right?  Wrong.  Last week, the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) opened their own investigation into the Oracle's proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems.  Seeing an opening to hinder the deal, MySQL co-founder Monty Widenius has stated his intentions to lobby against the acquisition with both Russian and Chinese anti-trust regulators.

In reference to China and Russia, Widenius said in a statement: "They are powerful, self-confident and open-source-friendly countries and they have every right and opportunity to do a better job on this than the EU."  The deadline for the EU investigation is January 27th, but sources close to the deal say that it could be approved earlier than that.  The EU warmed up to Oracle after the company released ten commitments outlining how they would handle MySQL in the next five years if the acquisition occurs.  However, the EU may also have gotten its motivation to approve the deal from the mounting job losses at Sun and the letter from 59 US Senators.

Although Widenius has lost faith in the EU to block the deal, his optimism about China and Russia might not be misplaced.  China has a history of standing up to large corporations in anti-trust cases.  Chinese regulators were able to get conditions placed on deals like InBev's acquisition of Anheuser-Busch and Panasonic's acquisition of Sanyo Electric.  They were even able to block Coca-Cola's takeover of China Huiyuan Juice last March.

There's no indication that Widenius' first wave of "Save MySQL" petitions sparked Russia's current investigation, but he may be planning to send another wave now that the regulators have shown interest in the deal.  Widenius says the petition currently has over 30,000 signatures from people who are against Oracle's acquisition of MySQL.  The FAS specifically mentions MySQL in their formal notice of investigation (in Russian), so their concerns are along the same lines as the EU.  There's no word on how long a Russian or Chinese investigation could take, or what effect it will have, but Oracle is playing it cool right now by labeling the setback as procedural.

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