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EC to probe Oracle's $7.4bn Sun takeover

THE European Union (EU) has launched an investigation into whether software firm Oracle&rsquo;s $7.4bn (&pound;4.5bn) takeover of computer maker Sun Microsystems is in breach of European competition rules.<br /><br />The US justice department gave its approval to the deal last month, but the European Commission&rsquo;s competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said the legislative body had a duty to look into the deal in case it damaged competition.<br /><br />&ldquo;The commission has to examine very carefully the effects on competition in Europe when the world's leading proprietary database company proposes to take over the world's leading open source database company,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />The EC, which is concerned about the impact of the deal on an already highly-concentrated database market, is due to make its final decision on the case before 19 January next year.<br /><br />The takeover is seen as a potentially transformational deal for Oracle, led by chief executive Larry Ellison, because it would gain control of Java, a programming language used in personal and office computers around the world.<br /><br />Oracle is keen to wrap up the deal to prevent rivals such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard luring customers from Sun with the promise of huge discounts.<br />IBM launched its own bid to merge with Sun, which collapsed before Oracle pounced with its takeover offer.<br />