Oracle fights on as PeopleSoft scoffs

Refusing to relent in a takeover attempt that has now spanned an entire season, Oracle Corp. next week will host its second town hall meeting for PeopleSoft Inc. customers concerned about long-term support for PeopleSoft products if Oracle should take over the rival enterprise software maker.

However, PeopleSoft's chief executive officer says he is no longer worried about a possible takeover. Oracle's offer has been on the table since June, and still has not attracted enough PeopleSoft shares to make a takeover possible. Oracle's current tender offer of $19.50 a share — about $6 billion total to acquire a controlling interest — will expire Sept. 19, although the company so far has extended it every time a deadline has approached.

PeopleSoft Chief Executive Officer Craig Conway, who worked for Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in the early 1990s, told online technology news site CNet that Oracle's bid was essentially thwarted when PeopleSoft acquired J.D. Edwards and Co., a smaller software maker, in July.

"It's not really being fought much anymore," Conway told CNet, referring to PeopleSoft's stance. "It's pretty much over. In June-July, it was a big, big story — kind of the Oracle 'shock and awe' campaign. But beginning the first week of July, the thing started to die a rapid death," he said.

Oracle is pressing ahead, however. At the town hall meeting, set for Sept. 3, Oracle executive vice presidents Chuck Phillips and Mike Rocha will discuss planned enhancements to PeopleSoft customer support and the process the mechanics of making the transition. PeopleSoft customers will be able to join in via the Internet or telephone.

To participate in Oracle's "town hall" meeting via the Web, or for more information: www.oracle.com/peoplesoft/townhall.html.

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