MS/DOJ: MS to see AOL-Netscape-Sun papers

The judge overseeing Microsoft Corp.'s antitrust trial has ordered the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to turn over to the software giant documents related to the proposed merger between America Online Inc. (AOL) and Netscape Communications Corp. and AOL's alliance with Sun Microsystems Inc.

The judge overseeing Microsoft Corp.'s antitrust trial has ordered the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to turn over to the software giant documents related to the proposed merger between America Online Inc. (AOL) and Netscape Communications Corp. and AOL's alliance with Sun Microsystems Inc.

Microsoft attorneys have claimed at trial that the AOL-Netscape merger and their partnership with Sun undermine the government's case against Microsoft because the deals prove that competition is thriving in the Internet software market. In addition, Microsoft attorneys argue that the proposed deal would dramatically change the competitive landscape since the three companies joining forces are among the leading vendors in their field.

The DOJ is reviewing the documents as part of its obligatory regulatory scrutiny to ensure that the deals wouldn't result in antitrust violations. Microsoft had requested authorization from the court to review the documents, and attorneys for AOL, Netscape and Sun had agreed to that.

The documents, which will be classified as "highly confidential information," include: the AOL-Netscape agreement and merger plan and documents involving AOL and Sun, including their strategic development and marketing agreement; joint development agreement; side letter amending the Sun technology license and distribution agreement; service provider agreement; dial-up network services agreement; and advertising services agreements.

AOL's proposed stock-for-stock buyout of Netscape was originally valued at about US$4.2 billion when first announced in November. However, AOL's shares have increased in value since then, bringing the value of the transaction up to about $6.5 billion.

Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or at http://www.microsoft.com/. Netscape, based in Mountain View, California, can be reached at +1-650-254-1900 or on the World Wide Web at http://www.netscape.com/. AOL, in Dulles, Virginia, can be reached at +1-703-448-8700 or at http://www.aol.com/.

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