U.S. senators ask EU to hurry probe of Oracle-Sun

Fifty-nine U.S. senators have asked European antitrust regulators to speed up their investigation into Oracle's planned acquisition of Sun Microsystems, due to Sun's "deteriorating financial condition."

The senators, led by John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, called on the European Commission to "expedite" its investigation into the $7.4 billion acquisition, in a letter sent Tuesday.

"The deal between Oracle and Sun was announced in April and seven months have gone by without a resolution," Kerry said in a statement. "Continued delay of the European Commission's decision on clearance threatens thousands of American jobs, so we felt compelled to ask for a speedy resolution."

Sun reported a net loss of $120 million for the first quarter of its 2010 fiscal year, with the quarter ending on Sept. 27. The company reported a net loss of $2.2 billion for its 2009 fiscal year, compared to a net loss of $403 million for its 2008 fiscal year.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has said that Sun is losing $100 million per month as it waits for the deal to close.

Unless European antitrust regulators wrap up their investigation soon, there could be layoffs at Sun, the senators wrote. The U.S. Department of Justice concluded its own antitrust investigation in August without finding any problems with the deal, the letter said.

European regulators have concerns over competition in the database market, but Sun's open-source MySQL serves a tiny portion of the European market, the letter said. Oracle is the largest vendor of proprietary database software.

"Unfortunately, Sun Microsystems' financial position has become more precarious and the Commission's inquiry has continued," the letter said. "Some have raised concerns over the company's ability to continue to employ its thousands of workers. Accordingly, we respectfully request the European Commission complete its investigation of this transaction as quickly as possible."

Earlier this month, the European Commission issued a formal "statement of objections" over the deal, saying it would hurt competition in the database market. That statement doesn't necessarily mean the European Commission will block the deal.

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