"We've had a very good dialogue with the Department of Justice and we were almost able to resolve everything before the Second Request deadline," said Dan Wall of the firm Latham & Watkins, Oracle's counsel in the deal, in a statement issued Friday. Wall continued: "All that's left is one narrow issue about the way rights to Java are licensed that is never going to get in the way of the deal. I fully expect that the investigation will end soon and not delay the closing of the deal this summer."
Well, that's somewhat encouraging. Oracle has a history of wrangling with Justice, and not always on friendly terms. Rewind to 2004, when the DOJ and seven states sued to block its merger with PeopleSoft. CEO Larry Ellison vowed to fight, and ultimately won.
On the other hand, its 2005 deal for Siebel Systems was extended in much the same way that the proposed Sun acquisition has been, and was ultimately approved, The Wall Street Journal reports. Sun's poor earnings argue in favor of combining with a suitor like Oracle.
But as Wall says, the issue is Java, the platform-cum-programming language that many in the industry license from Sun in order to webify their software. Sun once accused Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) of toying with the technology, changing it for Mr. Softy's own purposes, and won a $1.6 billion settlement as a consequence. The feds could consider Java too important for Oracle to control on its own, at least without some sort of ownership guidelines.
Expect Oracle to do what it must. Java is crucial to making Oracle's applications more cloudy -- an Ellison priority -- and in the process, more competitive with salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM ) , SAP (NYSE: SAP ) , and even NetSuite (NYSE: N ) , a would-be rival in which Ellison owns a huge stake.
Justice may be taking its time, but there probably won't be a courtroom sequel. This deal makes too much sense.
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