Oracle denies support slipping for PeopleSoft bid

Oracle doesn't believe support for its takeover of PeopleSoft is waning despite a reduction in the number of shares its $US19.50 offer has netted.

Oracle doesn't believe support for its takeover of PeopleSoft is waning despite a reduction in the number of shares its $US19.50 offer has netted.

At of the close of business on October 10, a total of 24,812,259 shares had been tendered in and not withdrawn from the offer, representing about 8% of all outstanding shares, Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Lilientha said. That's down from 38,718,737 shares at the close of business on September 4.

As the uptake goes backwards, Oracle has once again extended the time of the offer, to the end of December.

Oracle announced its $US5.1 billion unsolicited bid for PeopleSoft in June and, in the face of strong resistance from PeopleSoft, has since raised its offer to $US7.3 billion. It has renewed its bid for the company at least five times, with the most recent offer set to expire October 17.

The company spokeswoman argues that the drop in tendered shares does not indicate that support for the acquisition is waning. PeopleSoft shareholders don't have an incentive to tender their shares in favour of the merger while it's still being reviewed by the US Department of Justice for potential antitrust concerns, she says.

Oracle has previously said it will continue to extend the deadline for acceptance of the deal until it reaches its goal of acquiring a majority of PeopleSoft's outstanding shares. The company is as committed to the merger today as it was when it first announced its offer, spokesman Jim Finn says.

PeopleSoft executives have been dismissing the Oracle bid as a dead issue and concentrating their energies on integrating PeopleSoft's products with those of JD Edwards, which PeopleSoft acquired in July.

The spectre of Oracle's bid hasn't deterred Sky City from choosing PeopleSoft as supplier of an ERP system. The CIO of the Auckland-based casino operator, Damian Swaffield, told Computerworld Online that he considered the company's interests "adequately protected regardless of what happens in the wider industry".

Oracle's Finn, however, claims PeopleSoft's intentions for the JDE products mean "confusion and execution risk for customers and shareholders".

"Oracle believes that its fully-financed, all-cash offer for PeopleSoft represents the better plan for PeopleSoft shareholders and customers."

PeopleSoft is saying decisions about local jobs and operational details are still a couple of weeks away. However, the New Zealand Herald has reported that JDE New Zealand boss John Speed will move to a sales position in Australia. Speed wouldn't comment on the report yesterday.

PeopleSoft New Zealand sales head Andy Batchelor and support boss Stewart Gibbs are reported to have retained their jobs. Batchelor wouldn't comment yesterday, and nor would PeopleSoft Australia spokesperson Tanya Brown elaborate on the Herald report.

Details of a product road map and local services and support would be released in "a few weeks", Brown told Computerworld Online.

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