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Oracle Exec Appeals to J.D. Edwards Customers

Oracle President Chuck Phillips is hoping a sales pitch to a gathering of J.D. Edwards customers in the software maker's will curry favor for its maligned $9.4 billion offer for rival PeopleSoft.

While Phillips pumped up his own company at the Quest West meeting in San Diego, Calif., Monday with such flowery descriptions as "innovative world-class services" and "lowest cost of ownership in the industry," he also criticized PeopleSoft's integration of J.D. Edwards.

He questioned why PeopleSoft has yet to outline a definitive roadmap for J.D. Edwards integration within the PeopleSoft platform and listed a number of concerns he said J.D. Edwards customers have expressed about how the applications they use would be affected by PeopleSoft's integration.

The executive of the Redwood Shores, Calif. company also said J.D. Edwards customers are concerned that Pleasanton, Calif.'s, PeopleSoft will change elements of the J.D. Edwards 5 platform.

However, much of the argument was not new.

One of the prevailing concerns since PeopleSoft announced its intent to acquire the company was that because J.D. Edwards software is largely built on the IBM AS400 platform it would be difficult to reconcile that legacy code base with PeopleSoft's younger Web-based infrastructure. Nothing has changed on that score and PeopleSoft has vowed to address the issue.

Phillips' appearance comes days after the Department of Justice struck down Oracle's $9.4 billion offer for PeopleSoft, which acquired mid-market applications maker J.D. Edwards last July for $1.75 billion.

The Oracle executive attended the show to argue Oracle's case to users of J.D. Edwards: Quest, the J.D. Edwards users group, has been inundated with customer concerns about the pending merger and what it may mean for PeopleSoft World and EnterpriseOne users, the product lines that include J.D. Edwards software.

PeopleSoft declined to participate.

Oracle was dealt a blow in its bid last Thursday by the DOJ, which decried Oracle's bid as a maneuver that would limit choice, slow innovation and hurt customers in a market it said is dominated by three main players -- German giant SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft.

DOJ Assistant Attorney General R. Hewitt Pate said he would file a civil lawsuit to block Oracle.

Oracle later promised to "vigorously challenge" the DOJ's decision in court. Both the DOJ and Oracle are expected to meet in the U.S District Court in San Francisco soon.

Though the DoJ with its decision provided PeopleSoft with some breathing room, the company still has to contend with shareholders at the annual meeting March 25, where it is likely those in favor of the $26 per share bid -- an 18.8 percent premium -- will voice their opinions for the merger.