Oracle poised to relocate as Sun acquisition approved

A JUBILANT Oracle is gearing up to relocate its Scottish headquarters from Edinburgh to Linlithgow, following the European Commission's approval of its £4.5 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes ended several months of uncertainty last week, saying she was now satisfied that the proposed takeover of one US technology giant by another will preserve competition and innovation.

Kroes went further than expected by claiming the deal has the potential to revitalise key assets in European markets by creating new and innovative products. Originally, antitrust regulators had expressed concern it might have a negative impact on Sun's open source database program MySQL, used by Facebook and Amazon and a rival to offerings from IBM and Microsoft.

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In Scotland the merger of the two businesses will mark a step change for Oracle, and will see the integration of two office locations, which are currently 20 miles apart, in Edinburgh and West Lothian.

Until now, Oracle's Scottish presence has been represented by a small Edinburgh office of around 90 people, with other staff and consultants based around the country working for its international function.

Sun employs around 500 staff at its West Lothian plant, where manufacturing ceased over a year ago, but which still provides a range of vital support services.

Some administration jobs are expected to be shed as Oracle moves into Sun's operations. One IT source said: "The focus will very much be centred on Linlithgow but expect Oracle to retain a presence out in the field, especially in Edinburgh where the financial and public sectors remain key customers."

The takeover has received a mixed reaction in the Scottish IT marketplace.

Andy Bird, managing director of Oracle partner Inoapps, which has offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and England, said:

"Sun produces outstanding hardware and software products. With the latter I look forward to seeing what happens when Oracle utilises its massive research and development budget to flagship products like Java."

Peter Burtwistle, managing director of Sysnet in Glasgow and Livingston Innovation Centre, and an Oracle partner, said: "One has to be a little sad about the takeover. It is yet another, and possibly the last, of the great platform independent technologies that helped to develop the tech and e-commerce industry, now being swallowed up by a big corporate player."