Oracle Reaffirms Interest in PeopleSoft


Hours after PeopleSoft conducted a meeting with
financial analysts to discuss its plans for absorbing J.D. Edwards , Oracle Thursday reiterated its interest in
acquiring PeopleSoft for $7.5 billion and extended its tender offer of $19.50 per
share to October 17.


The bid marks the second time in as many months that the Redwood Shores,
Calif. software maker, eager to stifle competition in the enterprise
applications space where PeopleSoft sits No. 2 behind German giant SAP,
extended its offer. The tender offer was previously set to expire September
19 at midnight.


As of the close of trading on Thursday, approximately 38.7 million shares had
been tendered in and not withdrawn from the offer.


“PeopleSoft’s plan means confusion and execution risk for customers and
shareholders,” said Jim Finn, Oracle spokesperson. “Oracle believes that
its fully-financed, all cash offer for PeopleSoft represents the better plan
for PeopleSoft shareholders and customers. We remain fully committed to our
offer and are today announcing an extension of the offer through October 17,
2003.”


Oracle, at war with PeopleSoft in a hostile bid to buy the Pleasanton,
Calif. rival since early June, hasn’t backed down a bit since announcing its
intentions. But the company has faced opposition from a defiant PeopleSoft
from the get-go, and the specter of antitrust investigations from the
Department of Justice looms.


In related news, PeopleSoft, which Thursday authorized a stock repurchase
program for up to $350 million of its stock, was thwarted in its attempts to
unseal e-mails that are potentially damning to Oracle’s position. PeopleSoft
had asked the court to get Oracle employee e-mails unsealed for the public.
But Thursday Alameda County Superior Court Judge Ronald Sabraw shot down the
informal request.


In late August, PeopleSoft yielded
what it believed was evidence to support its complaints that suggest Oracle
was aware of just how the company’s actions were hurting PeopleSoft,
offering e-mail excerpts to the public. But Oracle disputed the presentation
of the e-mails, with spokesman Finn noting that they were excerpts taken out
of context.


For example, PeopleSoft quoted Oracle Executive Vice President Safra Catz as
writing that Oracle would not continue support for PeopleSoft products. Finn
took issue with this.


Finn said the email, “…is a good example of PeopleSoft’s attempt to
take a single sentence fragment from a lengthy document out of context and
try to turn it into something salacious.”


What this adds up to, legal experts have said, is a he-said, she-said game
where each company is attempting to persuade Sabraw that the other is
engaging in misconduct. Outside the court, lawyers said, the DOJ is waiting
in the wings to see if any evidence of anticompetitive practices come to
light, particularly on the part of Oracle.


Sabraw’s decision is an example of the balance that is being struck in the
case to let each company make their argument.

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