Article

Timeline: Following the Oracle-European Commission trail

Ed Scannell, Site Editor

With activity picking up speed in the European Commission’s investigation of Oracle’s proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems, this is a good time to look back at the series of events in the Oracle-Sun deal. Be sure to check back here for all the latest developments in this proposed merger, which could significantly alter the competitive landscape of the IT industry.

March 18

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First reports surface that IBM has approached its longtime rival Sun Microsystems with a view to buying the company for $6.5 billion. The first reaction among many IT shops with Sun systems is that this may not be the best deal for them.

April 2

Reports surface that IBM is pressing harder in its negotiations to buy Sun Microsystems, proposing a buyout price of between $9 and $10 per share, which would value the deal at $6.7 billion.

April 20

Oracle announces it has reached a deal for $7.4 billion, just one month after archrival IBM reportedly withdrew its bid, which topped out at $7 billion.

August 21

After months of review, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) gives Oracle the green light to move forward with its planned $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

September 3

First signs of trouble surface when the European Union announces that it will dig deeper into the proposed acquisition, focusing on the competitive ramifications of Oracle owning both the leading proprietary database and the leading open source database, MySQL.

September 22

Speaking at a dinner hosted by The Churchill Group in San Jose, Oracle chairman Larry Ellison acknowledges that Sun is losing $100 million a month and will continue to do so unless there is a swift resolution of the EC’s investigation.

October 21

Pressure builds in some quarters of the software industry for Oracle to sell MySQL to a reputable caretaker, including the product’s co-creator, Michael “Monty” Widenius.

November 4

First rumors surface that the EU is edging closer to issuing a formal Statement of Objections over the proposed Oracle-Sun deal. Reports say the EC has grown increasingly frustrated over the past couple of months with Oracle’s steadfast refusal to respond to its repeated requests to explain why the deal is not anticompetitive.

November 9

The previous week’s rumors prove true as the EC releases a formal Statement of Objections to the Oracle-Sun deal, which, as expected, focuses on the competitive ramifications of Oracle gaining control of MySQL. The same day, Oracle counterpunches with its own statement explaining why owning MySQL will not tilt the playing field in its favor.

Over the past two days, there have been a couple of other developments. In an unusual move, U.S. Deputy Attorney Molly Boast released a statement that reiterated the Justice Department’s ruling that Oracle’s proposed purchase is “unlikely to be anticompetitive even though the European Commission has objected to the deal.”

Neelie Kroes, the European Union Competition Commissioner, was swift to respond, saying in a statement: “The U.S. Department of Justice's statement on the EU's investigation into Oracle Corp.'s proposed takeover of Sun Microsystems Inc. (JAVA) wasn't in line with how the two bodies usually operate. It isn't normal practice to publish a statement from colleagues in Washington or from Brussels on an ongoing antitrust investigation. The commission has had a lot of contact with the DOJ -- even more than usual -- to talk about the specifics of the case.”

November 10

SAP weighs in on the deal, firing off a letter aimed at Oracle and the Wall Street Journal, calling a WSJ editorial "misleading speculation" when it wrote that SAP CEO Leo Apotheker may be trying to influence the EC or Oracle in return for a settlement of the TomorrowNow lawsuit.

November 25

The EC has scheduled a hearing for November 25 in Brussels, where both parties will present their cases.

January 19, 2010

The EC's deadline to make its final ruling.

 


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