Oracle's planned $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems may have hit a stumbling block.
The European Commission has requested more information about the acquisition by conducting what the commission calls a "Phase Two inquiry." In a statement issued Thursday the commission said its initial investigation "indicated that the proposed acquisition would raise serious doubts" about the deal's compatibility with European Union antitrust regulations.
The commission said it would issue a ruling in the case within 90 working days, establishing a deadline of Jan. 19, 2010. That means the acquisition may be delayed for months.
The commission, the executive branch of the 27-country European Union, is worried that Oracle's acquisition of Sun and its MySQL open-source database could reduce competition in the database software market.
"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," said competition commissioner Neelie Kroes in a statement Thursday. "In particular, the commission has an obligation to ensure that customers would not face reduced choice or higher prices as a result of this takeover."
Oracle issued a brief statement early Thursday announcing the European Commission decision, but offered no additional comment.
Antitrust regulators at the U.S. Department of Justice gave their approval for the deal on Aug. 20, after asking for more information about the acquisition, and Sun's stockholders voted to approve the deal July 16. Approval from the European Commission is the last major hurdle Oracle faces in buying Sun.