What if Oracle's buyout of Sun falls through?

Not likely to survive on its own, Sun would need a new buyer for itself or its technologies

Still, if Oracle does walk away, it's likely Sun would then look for a new buyer rather than try to remain independent, said RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady. The recession of 2008-09 hit Sun at the worst possible time, and Oracle provided a safe haven in troubled times when it agreed to buy Sun last April. Since then, Sun's position has gotten worse, so it would still need a rescuer.

Not that finding another owner would be easy: "They are well down the road to considering themselves part of Oracle, so the logistics of finding another buyer are difficult," he noted -- especially because Sun reportedly is losing $100 million a month, O'Grady said. "The economic implications for Sun, if the deal falls through, are not good," he said: A new buyer would not pay as much as Oracle did.

But Sun's assets still have value even if no one ends up buying Sun as a company, O'Grady said. He would expect someone to buy Sun's Sparc business, and he would expect its Java, MySQL, GlassFish, and x86 businesses also to be sold -- perhaps to different companies.

If the buyout fails, MySQL has been reasonably independent, but Sun's other businesses would either have to find ways to go forward independently or find another buyer, said Florian Mueller, an early investor in MySQL. (He opposes Oracle's acquisition of MySQL, though he supports Oracle's acquisition of Sun if MySQL is spun out.)

However, O'Grady does not believe the merger will fail. Both Sun and Oracle are committed to the effort, he said, though he is surprised deliberations have dragged on as long as they have (the acquisition was announced in April 2009). O'Grady said he expects Oracle to "stick to its guns" in its insistence that it will not divest itself of MySQL just to get the merger approved by the EU.

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Paul Krill

Paul Krill

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