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Oracle Chips in For Utility Applications

Oracle  added more pieces to its applications puzzle today with the purchase of software maker SPL WorldGroup from private equity funds managed by GFI Energy Ventures LLC.

SPL WorldGroup makes applications that manage assets and revenue for the utilities industry. SPL also makes a tax management application for government agencies.

Specifically, SPL's enSUMIT suite includes customer care and billing for mobile workforce management; and outage and distribution management applications to help electric, gas, water and services companies lower risk, reduce costs and improve performance.

SPL's Enterprise Tax Management Modules is the public sector tax management application, providing a way for a governmental group to manage the financial relationships it has with its constituents.

Oracle President Charles Phillips positioned SPL's applications as a reprieve from the custom software some customers feel they have to build for themselves.

"Conventional, customized solutions have proven inefficient, inflexible and costly," Phillips said in a statement. Oracle is putting utilities in control to enable greater business insight, increased service profitability and customer loyalty. In addition, SPL's tax management solution solves the revenue management needs of public sector enterprises."

Oracle said SPL's management and employees will form a dedicated global utilities business unit within Oracle, but will continue to make tax management software for the public sector. SPL CEO Larry Hagewood will lead the unit as general manager.

Terms of the deal were not made public.

SPL is more of a snack for Oracle, compared to its bid yesterday to acquire content management software power Stellent for $440 million.

While Stellent fills a major content infrastructure gap for Oracle, the SPL buy proves that Oracle is still filling gaps in the wake of its blockbuster purchase of PeopleSoft, Siebel Systems and Retek.

In 2006, Oracle purchased applications makers such as Demantra for supply chain management and Portal Software, which makes billing and management software for telecommunications companies.

Oracle hopes to eventually become as formidable in the enterprise applications business as SAP .