Where’s the hurry in Oracle’s reach for Sun?

Contact: Brenon Daly

Having gotten the all clear on this side of the Atlantic, Oracle is now waiting for the EU to sign off on its pending purchase of Sun Microsystems. And the company will have to wait a bit longer. The European Commission has a deadline of September 3 to determine if the deal would violate antitrust measures. If the body decides that it does, a subsequent probe could potentially drag on into 2010.

Granted, there’s a lot at stake in Larry Ellison’s plan to use the acquisition of Sun to turn Oracle into a systems vendor, as opposed to a company that just sells software. (Provided the transaction goes through, Oracle will be in a position to hawk Solaris and Linux servers, all running its own database, middleware and application software on the boxes.) And, as the largest tech buy since Hewlett-Packard purchased EDS in May 2008, Oracle’s $7.4bn reach for Sun is clearly not nickel-and-dime M&A.

But the pace of the review by regulators is absolutely glacial. Consider this fact: It took Oracle just two months to fully negotiate its purchase of Sun, according to proxy material. (Sun chairman Scott McNealy spoke with Ellison about a possible deal in late February; the companies announced the transaction on April 20.) More than twice that amount of time has elapsed since Oracle announced the deal – and regulators in Europe are still mulling it over.