EC's Kroes to US senators: Mind your own business on Oracle + Sun

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12:15 pm EST December 9, 2009 · European Commission spokesperson Jonathan Todd confirmed to Betanews this morning that statements attributed by the Associated Press to Commissioner Neelie Kroes were "accurate" as the AP portrayed them, although he did add that they were unprepared remarks. This means the EC is unlikely to report those remarks as official. Todd declined to add anything further.


In an extraordinary parting shot from the outgoing European Commissioner on Competition, Neelie Kroes -- who transfers to oversight of the 'Digital Society' in January -- the Associated Press quotes her as having openly responded, in a speech earlier today in Brussels, to a request by several US senators. Those senators, led by John Kerry (D - Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R - Utah), had asked Comm. Kroes to expedite her investigation of Oracle's proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

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The text of Kroes' speech has yet to be published by the EC, as is usually its custom. But the AP cites her as blasting Sens. Kerry and Hatch for "interfering in someone else's decisions," essentially telling them that approval of the Oracle+Sun deal was her business and not theirs.

Oracle is headquartered in Redwood Shores, California; Sun in Santa Clara.

Taking one step further -- an extent which would have us wonder, for lack of other evidence, whether she may have strayed from her prepared remarks -- Kroes said the senators should stick to solving American problems: specifically, health care. "Is this really more important than fixing your own health care system?" the AP quotes her as asking.

Last November 24, Hatch and Kerry sent a letter signed by 59 US senators, including themselves, informing Kroes and the European Commission of their concern that delaying a merger that the US Justice Dept. already determined to be benign and non-threatening toward competition, would jeopardize the financial state of Sun. It also essentially told Kroes the merger matter was a US affair, noting, "We recognize that the European Commission has a sovereign right to thoroughly investigate transactions where corporations utilize the European Union's marketplace. Further, it is our understanding the Commission is concerned about competition in the database software market. However, we have been informed by Sun Microsystems that their subsidiary, which competes in this specific market, generates only €17 million in revenue and that the same market has competitors with capitalizations of tens of billions of Euros."

Kroes may also have been put off by Sen. Hatch's statement upon public release of the letter, associating her commission with "foreign regulatory agencies...unfairly using their review processes to impede the business of American corporations." (Plural.)

Comm. Kroes' Web site was also missing the text of her speech by Tuesday evening, Eastern US time.

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