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Oracle expects EU to approve Sun deal next month
By JORDAN ROBERTSON
Associated Press
2009-12-18 04:52 AM
Oracle Corp. said Thursday that its profit jumped 13 percent in the latest quarter and that it expects the European Union will finally approve its $7.4 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems Inc. next month.

Oracle and Sun shares both rose in extended trading.

Oracle's results for its fiscal second quarter show that corporations are becoming less reluctant to spend on technology projects. Oracle is the world's No. 1 maker of database software, which helps companies manage information about everything from payroll to sales figures.

Oracle reported after the market closed that its revenue from new software licenses rose 2 percent in the three months ended Nov. 30. That was better than the company's earlier prediction and comes after four straight quarters of declines.

The figure is significant because Oracle makes most of its money from technical support contracts for existing customers. The more new business it can lock in, the more maintenance contracts it can count on selling in the coming years.

Oracle's revenue from license updates and support contracts was up 14 percent.

Oracle said it earned $1.5 billion, or 29 cents per share, versus $1.3 billion, or 25 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding one-time charges, the company earned 39 cents per share, which was better than the average estimate of 36 cents per share from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Oracle has spent $35 billion over the past five years acquiring 60 companies, mainly in an effort to expand the kinds of software it offers and better compete with the German company SAP AG. But Oracle is taking a different approach with Sun Microsystems, the world's No. 4 maker of computer servers.

If the deal is allowed, Oracle would become a hardware company for the first time, which will pressure its profit margins and ratchet up the tension with IBM Corp., an Oracle partner that also sells servers and database software. European regulators have until Jan. 27 to decide whether to approve the deal or block it.

The U.S. Department of Justice has approved the deal, but its European counterparts have expressed fears about how Oracle will handle a competing database product from Sun's MySQL division. This week, though, they appeared to soften their tone after hearing new promises from Oracle about its plans to keep supporting MySQL.

Oracle's president, Safra Catz, said in a statement Thursday that the company now expects that European regulators will "unconditionally" approve the Sun acquisition in January.

Oracle's stock jumped 97 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $23.80 in extended trading. It had closed the regular session down 24 cents at $22.88. Sun's stock rose 5 cents to $9.34 in extended trading, moving closer to the $9.50 per share that Oracle would pay to acquire the company.

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