Regulators Leery Of Oracle's Bid

Oracle Corp.'s hostile takeover bid for rival PeopleSoft Inc. is likely to run into regulatory difficulties, an executive of a third software concern, J.D. Edwards & Co., said Monday.

J.D. Edwards chief financial officer Rick Allen said it also appeared that Oracle's offer was made to disrupt the businesses of PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards, which had accepted a buyout offer from PeopleSoft only days before Oracle's bid was announced.

"To the extent that victory is fear, uncertainty and doubt in the marketplace, Oracle has done that,'' Allen said. "It will all be sorted out in the coming weeks."

Allen spoke after he and chief executive officer Bob Dutkowsky held a briefing during an annual meeting to unveil new products for customers.

Oracle on Friday launched a $5.1 billion hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft. It offered $16 per PeopleSoft share, a 6 percent premium above its closing price of $15.11 before the offer.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft's chief executive rebuffed the Oracle offer as a blatant attempt to derail his own merger plans.

It came four days after PeopleSoft announced an agreement to buy Denver-based J.D Edwards in a stock swap valued at about $1.8 billion.

J.D. Edwards primarily serves mid-size businesses while PeopleSoft focuses on large businesses. Oracle, based in Redwood Shores, Calif., is the second largest software manufacturer.

Dutkowsky said an Oracle-PeopleSoft merger would deprive customers of choice because PeopleSoft customers would be forced to move to Oracle software and services.

Products and services offered by PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards are complementary, and would enhance customer choice through expansion of the companies' offerings. Each company would sell and support the other's products under the merger, Dutkowsky said.

Regulators in the United States and Europe would likely frown on an Oracle-PeopleSoft combination for those reasons, Dutkowsky said during the briefing.

"This harm to customers is exactly what antitrust laws are designed to prevent,'' he said.

In trading Monday afternoon on the Nasdaq Stock Market, PeopleSoft shares rose 8 cents to close at $17.90, Oracle shares fell 23 cents to $12.86 and J.D. Edwards shares lost 13 cents to $13.07.

Featured in SciTech