Oracle's Hungry for More

Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) is still in hot pursuit of PeopleSoft (Nasdaq: PSFT  ) , but is also apparently looking for other acquisition targets. Oracle's management was candid at yesterday's shareholder meeting about the software company's need for outsiders in order to keep growing.

According to the Associated Press, Oracle head Larry Ellison said, "the second-largest U.S. software company after Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) can no longer rely solely on its internally developed products to drive its revenue growth." Even if Oracle is successful with its $7.3 billion bid for PeopleSoft, the firm says it will still prowl for further acquisitions.

When he wasn't referring to his company in the third person, or clarifying its position relative to Microsoft, Ellison was shooting down the possibility that beleagueredSun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW  ) might be in his sights. Oracle will stick to software, thank you very much, and leave the hardware side of things alone.

So, which companies, then, might Oracle be looking to snap up? Siebel Systems (Nasdaq: SEBL  ) name continues to be floated as a possible takeover target. Tom Siebel was an Ellison protege, just as PeopleSoft's chief Craig Conway was.

To discover others, Ellison's past proclamations about his competitors may prove prescient. Back in a January 2003 interview with Barron's, Ellison had lots to say about other software companies.

He characterized Siebel and I2 Technologies (Nasdaq: ITWO.PK  ) as "dying," for instance. He also said that Ariba (Nasdaq: ARBA  ) , Commerce One (Nasdaq: CMRC  ) , and Manugistics (Nasdaq: MANU  ) are "vanishing."

Ellison did say at that time, though, that BEA Systems (Nasdaq: BEAS  ) might make a good takeover target at a better valuation. Unfortunately for Oracle, shares of BEA are now higher than they were back then.

No one can say if Ellison will decide to go after BEA despite its price, or perhaps rescue one of Oracle's drowning peers. This is a guy full of surprises, after all, as evidenced by the hostile PeopleSoft bid. Still, with Oracle articulating its growth strategy as one that's contingent upon acquisitions, we'll be in a better position to know what to expect from it in the future.

LouAnn Lofton owns shares of Microsoft.


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