The European Commission Thursday opened an in-depth antitrust investigation into Oracle Corp.'s planned $7.4 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems Inc.
The commission said it has "serious concerns" that the deal between Oracle, the world's second-largest software maker, and Sun Microsystems might lead to reduced competition in the market for computer databases.
This comes on the heels of a different outcome here. On August 25th
Oracle Corp. said antirust regulators at the U.S. Department of Justice have cleared its $7.4 billion deal to buy Sun Microsystems Inc., removing a major hurdle for the transaction.
The Justice Department's decision occurred five months after the deal was announced.
Meanwhile, competitors like HP and IBM have been trying to profit from the ill-defined status of the deal. The EU's investigation
could put the world's No. 3 software maker, Oracle, months behind its original plan for closing the deal, giving rivals -- including Hewlett-Packard Co and International Business Machines Corp -- more time to poach hardware customers from Sun, the No. 4 maker of computer servers.
HP and IBM have been offering discounts and other incentives to woo Sun customers since Oracle agreed to buy Sun in April, playing up concerns that software maker Oracle might have trouble running a hardware maker.
Reasonable people can make a case for some degree of antitrust enforcement. This case should recognize, however, that some beneficial mergers and acquisitions do not occur because of the costs imposed by antitrust investigations.