Russia May Tell Oracle ‘Nyet’ on Sun Purchase

Just as Oracle is getting ready to finally celebrate the closure of its long-delayed purchase of Sun Microsystems, Russia and China are now threatening to drag the pain out even longer.

Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) has an event scheduled for January 27, the deadline for the European Union to issue its ruling (and launch day for Apple’s tablet), and CEO Larry Ellison must be optimistic, because the event is titled “Hardware. Software. Complete.” It also says Ellison and Sun executives will discuss the strategy for the combined companies “post-close.”

But that may hit yet another snag as the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has yet to approve the deal and the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) announced last week it has decided to launch an investigation and seek more information about the deal from both Sun and Oracle and is seeking input from anyone wishing to comment.

So guess who was first in line? None other than one of the most frequent critics of the deal.

“China and Russia can still say no unless there’s a real solution in place. They are powerful, self-confident and open-source-friendly countries and they have every right and opportunity to do a better job on this than the EU. Russia just decided to take more time for this review and China proved in the Panasonic-Sanyo case that it stood its ground even after a deal had been cleared by the US and the EU,” said MySQL creator Michael “Monty” Widenius in a statement.

Widenius has been trying with little success to stop the Oracle-Sun merger from going through for several weeks now. He set up the site at the end of December to gather signatures from people opposed to the merger. Thus far, he has 33,000 signatories.

It’s not clear how long such an investigation by the Russian FAS could take. Its public statement on the matter (available here in Russian, but Google Translate does a sufficient job) directly addresses MySQL and asks if the deal may limit competition.

Don’t panic yet, says Merv Adrian, president of IT Market Strategy. “It’s not clear that Oracle will wait for ‘one country at a time’ approval once he has US and EU blessing. China is a big market and Russia is a big market, so nothing is certain till we hear what Larry says on the 27th,” he told via e-mail.

Oracle did not return calls for comment.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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