Oracle puts IBM, Microsoft executives on witness list

Oracle, PeopleSoft call software execs, Justice Dept. calls customers

Oracle plans to enlist IBM's software head, Steve Mills, as a witness when the US Department of Justice's (DoJ) case against Oracle's PeopleSoft takeover plan goes to trial in June

The witness list Oracle submitted to Judge Vaughn Walker Tuesday is a roster of high-profile software executives, including its own chief executive, Larry Ellison, and PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway. Oracle's lawyers estimate they will spend six hours grilling Conway on topics including the sustainability of PeopleSoft's business and the industry's competitive dynamics, according to the filing.

Along with academic experts and industry analysts, Oracle intends to boost its case with testimony from Siebel Systems product strategy leader David Schmaier, Microsoft US small business general manager Cindy Bates and SAP executive Richard Knowles.

The DoJ also plans to tap officials from PeopleSoft, IBM and Microsoft to back its position, including Microsoft's business applications leader, Doug Burgum.

The DoJ is suing to block Oracle's tender offer to PeopleSoft's shareholders for control of the company, an acquisition the DoJ says would unacceptably limit the buying options of large customers and hurt industry competitiveness.

While Oracle's witness list leans heavily on experts and representatives from other application vendors, the DoJ's focuses on customers. The department intends to call representatives of more than a dozen to speak about their human resources and financial management system needs, and about the likely impact on their organisations of an Oracle-PeopleSoft combination.

Trial on the DoJ lawsuit against Oracle is scheduled to commence June 7, in US District Court in San Francisco.

Even if Oracle successfully counters the DoJ's opposition, it faces long odds on completing the PeopleSoft takeover it began pursuing almost a year ago. PeopleSoft's management remains bitterly opposed to the deal, and the company's shareholders aren't responding to Oracle's cash tender offer. Last week Oracle cut its per-share offer from $US26 to $21, reducing to $7.7 billion the value of a bid that had climbed to $9.4 billion. It said at the time that 7.9 million PeopleSoft shares had been validly tendered, representing around 2 % of PeopleSoft's outstanding shares.

PeopleSoft and Oracle are also embroiled in a number of other legal cases related to Oracle's takeover attempt. A judge is set to hear in November PeopleSoft's lawsuit charging Oracle with libel and unfair competition.