Oracle Won and Lost in Europe

Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) has been given the green light by European regulators to swallow Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA  ) whole. "I am now satisfied that competition and innovation will be preserved on all the markets concerned," European antitrust commissioner Neelie Kroes said. "Oracle's acquisition of Sun has the potential to revitalize important assets and create new and innovative products."

So Oracle is out of antitrust challenges and regulatory obstacles, except for investigations in China and Russia; the European Commission is expected to follow suit shortly. Sun’s shareholders have also approved the deal, and everyone should sign on the dotted line within weeks or maybe even days.

Now that it's pretty much a done deal, I still don't think that Oracle was wise to pony up $7.4 billion for Sun. Much like Cisco Systems' (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) straying from its core networking expertise into a new server systems venture, Oracle is getting into new industries that it knows very little about -- except from a customer standpoint. I doubt that will translate well into sell-side prowess. Furthermore, Oracle now becomes a hardware rival to traditional allies like Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , neither of whom had much reason to be nervous around Oracle before.

Both Cisco and Oracle seem to be on their own separate quests to become the next IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , cross-selling products for every layer of the corporate data center from software applications to hardware nuts and bolts. That isn't such a bad idea, except that we already have an IBM. The synergies and new cross-marketing opportunities for Oracle will probably not outweigh the downsides, which include partnerships lost and possible corporate infighting from two very different businesses that should bring back sour memories of the AOL / Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) buyout.

You won the approval, Oracle, but I think the Europeans did you a disservice.

What's your take on the Sun buyout? Share your two pennies in the comments section below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. The Fool owns shares of Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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  • Report this Comment On January 21, 2010, at 4:46 PM, Techlog wrote:

    Oracle acquired Siebel and many other software shop in the past. That was good moves, focusing on what they did best. The software portion of SUN is good as acquisition, but again, what they will do with the hardware? I don't think that this move is really a good one.There was rumor that they will sell to HP or Dell. Now instead of working in collaboration with IBM, Dell, HP, EMC, and others, they will compete, particularly if they propose appliance and solution bundles. They have created the same situation that Cisco did, pushing HP to bough 3Com and compete more, and IBM and HP reselling a lot less Cisco gears.On the long run the acquistion will only be profitable on the software side (MySQL, Java), but hardware will pump earnings. Don't know why they don't sell. That billion or so would had been good for the balance sheet.

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