REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. (

TheStreet

--

Oracle

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has received an extension from the European Union as the database giant attempts to

complete

its controversial

acquisition

of

Sun

(JAVA)

.

EU officials have extended the deadline for their antitrust review of the

$7.4 billion deal

from Jan. 19 until Jan. 27, according to press reports.

The European Commission, which launched the probe into the merger, said the software firm had asked for the

extension

"in order to have the opportunity to further develop its arguments in response to the Commission's concerns."

Shares of both companies dipped in early trading on Friday. Oracle's stock slipped 12 cents, or 0.54%, to $22.27 and Sun's shares fell 5 cents, or 0.58%, to $8.55, mirroring the broader decline in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq lose 0.6%.

Already approved by Sun shareholders and regulators on this side of the Atlantic,

Oracle

has been

duking it out

with the European Commission for the last few months. The big

stumbling block

is Sun's

MySQL database

technology.

MySQL

, which competes with

Microsoft's

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SQL and

IBM

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's DB2 is one of the jewels in Sun's crown. The technology, however, also features in free software projects such as WordPress, prompting concern that the deal could have widespread ramifications for the broader tech sector.

Oracle has even become embroiled in a

war of words

with European regulators after the Commission issued a formal

objection

to the Sun acquisition.

Set against this backdrop, the deadline extension could underline Oracle's unwillingness to give up on Sun, ensuring that its lawyers have enough time to fend off European concerns and make a water-tight case. Critics, however, suggest that Larry Ellison's firm is struggling to make a convincing argument.

"Oracle is now apparently backtracking from previous claims that the European Commission has no credible theory of harm," wrote Florian Mueller, a former MySQL shareholder, in an email to

TheStreet

. "If the EU's objections were baseless, Oracle wouldn't need more time now to develop its arguments."

The delay will also be

music to the ears

of Sun and Oracle's competitors, such as

IBM

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and

Hewlett-Packard

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who have been eagerly

eagerly

preying

on any customer uncertainty.

IBM, of course was Sun's initial

suitor

, but

walked away

from a deal, with price reportedly a major

sticking point

.

Clearly, the longer the deal is delayed the more Sun suffers, as evidenced by its recent

job cuts

, which it blamed on the delay in closing the Oracle deal. Sun's revenue also dipped 25% year-over-year in its first-quarter results, released earlier this month.

Fiery Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has already

complained

that the EC probe is costing Sun $100 million a month.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York