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Oracle's stalled $5.6bn acquisition of Sun Microsystems looks like its finally received approval from European antitrust regulators.

On Wednesday, the database giant said that next week, its chief executive Larry Ellison will outline a strategy for the combined companies and their roadmaps during a webcast.

The event could not happen unless Oracle's acquisition of the fading Sun had finally cleared the European Union's regulatory process. Before approval, the companies must be seen to be operating separately and in a way that's not deemed unfair to their competitors.

Ellison is understood to have wanted the deal closed and announced ahead of the America's Cup, starting in Spain on February 8. Ellison is a keen racer and his Oracle-sponsored boat will be participating. He didn't want any distractions.

Oracle did not respond to requests to clarify whether the EU had approved the deal. But separate reports have said an agreement has been reached.

Next week's event will see Oracle lay-out the plans in hardware and software its executives have spent building in 2009 by carefully combing through Sun's product groups and thinning ranks of employees.

The announcement will also signal an end to the limbo inhabited by Sun's surviving employees, as it will be made clear which people and product groups are unwanted and will be axed. Oracle's deal was expected to close in the summer last year.

Investment banker UBS has predicted that Oracle will cut 13,800 Sun employees, half the workforce. To shore-up morale, Sun has promised workers Oracle will "rely heavily" on them. This month, Sun axed 353 employees in its latest round of water-treading job cuts.

The announcement of the event implies an agreement was reached between regulators and Oracle on the question of MySQL. Either regulators accepted Oracle assurances that there was no clash of interests in owning MySQL, or Oracle could have agreed - as reported - to create a structure that satisfies those concerned about MySQL's future while letting it retain ownership or control.

MySQL co-founder Monty Widenius had argued that Oracle would have far too much control over the open source database and said that other OSS vendors would be unable to compete effectively. He launched a campaign in December that in just a few weeks got 15,000 supporters.

Next Wednesday's event will be classic Oracle: a webcast that combines product strategy down to the minutes details of specific products, plus sales and marketing hype all broadcast from the safety of Oracle's Redwood Shores, California HQ - safe from probing questions.

Oracle's release announcing the event said: "Larry Ellison, along with executives from Oracle and Sun, will outline the strategy for the combined companies, product roadmaps, and how customers will benefit from having all components - hardware, operating system, database, middleware, and applications - engineered to work together." ®

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