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November 21, 2009

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EU extends deadline on anti-trust review

EUROPEAN Union regulators said yesterday that they have extended until January 27 a deadline to wrap up their antitrust review of Oracle Corp's planned US$7.4-billion takeover of Sun Microsystems Inc.

The European Commission said Oracle had asked for more time "in order to have the opportunity to further develop its arguments in response to the commission's concerns."

The EU executive gave them an extra six working days.

Regulators sent a formal charge sheet to Oracle earlier this month laying out competition problems that they see with the deal, claiming Oracle's purchase of open-source database software MySQL could eliminate a crucial rival and hike prices.

The EU can block the takeover -- which has already been approved by the United States -- or demand changes to eliminate competition concerns. Officials complained that Oracle had not tried to offer any solutions -- possibly selling off MySQL, which Oracle says it doesn't want to do.

Oracle has criticized the EU for not understanding the database market or open-source dynamics well enough.

MySQL is popular among Web-based firms and regulators say it will pose a threat to Oracle's market-leading database software as it adds features and attracts more customers. Sun paid US$1 billion for it last year.

The EU objection ratchets up tension about the fate of the deal, which Sun badly needs to go through.


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