Justice OKs PeopleSoft-Edwards merger

The road is now clear for PeopleSoft Inc. to complete its acquisition of J.D. Edwards and Co., a move that would make PeopleSoft a dominant enterprise software player in both the large and mid-size markets.

The Justice Department today granted the two companies an early termination to the normal waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. PeopleSoft's exchange offer for J.D. Edwards will expire at midnight July 17. At that time, PeopleSoft expects to complete the acquisition, said company spokesman Steve Swasey.

However, Oracle Corp. is continuing its dogged pursuit of rival PeopleSoft. Oracle, pushing a hostile takeover bid since June 9, today extended its offer of $19.50 per share for PeopleSoft stock through Aug. 15. The offer, most recently extended to July 18, would total more than $6 billion.

Justice's ruling vindicates PeopleSoft's position, Swasey said. "We've said all along that the deal did not present any anti-trust problems," he said.

Once the deal closes, the two companies will have to integrate their products and operations, a process Swasey declined to detail. "We haven't discussed our road map yet," he said. "We're moving ahead with closing the deal right now."

PeopleSoft's board has twice recommended that shareholders reject Oracle's offer, although Oracle reports that shareholders have tendered about 43.8 million shares so far.

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