Next Stop, OracleSoft?

The saga continues. Late yesterday, a federal judge ruled that Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) can pursue its hostile takeover of PeopleSoft (Nasdaq: PSFT  ) , a deal with a $7.7 billion price tag. (Much thanks to Fool contributor Tim Beyers for coining the term "OracleSoft" in this informative piece in March, seeing how I have taken the liberty of swiping the nickname for my headline.) Is smooth sailing ahead for the takeover now? Not a chance.

At one time, it seemed doubtful that the U.S. courts would let this hostile takeover proceed. Now that Chief Judge Vaughn Walker has shot down the Justice Department, perhaps the best advice is to remember that Oracle still has plenty of hurdles ahead, including possible scrutiny from the European Union. (And history has shown us that the European Commission can be one tough customer when it comes to U.S. companies and antitrust concerns.)

More thought can be given regarding further consolidation in the industry, which Tim predicted when he asked whether Larry Ellison had gone crazy, given his vows to eye even more acquisitions. It's being bandied about that this ruling clears the way for big fish such as Oracle, IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , and SAP (NYSE: SAP  ) to swallow up the little guys in the space.

As much as this might be important to the industry, setting a precedent for consolidation, recently Tim discussed how little this particular courtroom victory would mean. He pointed out that there's still PeopleSoft's poison pill to worry about, though some suspect that yesterday's ruling could put some additional pressure on the company's leader, Craig Conway, to play ball. Given the last 15 months of fighting words, to me, that seems unlikely.

Meanwhile, what additional damage is being done? PeopleSoft's letter to employees today (many thanks to zoningfool on our Oracle board, who supplied the text of the letter that was filed with PeopleSoft proxy materials with the Securities and Exchange Commission last night) makes one imagine the rancor with which PeopleSoft's employees must view Ellison & Co. If and when the PeopleSoft takeover occurs, will that make for good business?

While the entire letter is a good read for investors, its highlights include one connected to the upcoming trial against Oracle in November: "During the course of the recent antitrust trial, internal Oracle documents came to light demonstrating that Oracle's strategy was as we believed all along -- to create confusion and let PeopleSoft 'twist in the wind.' " No wonder Fool contributor Tom Taulli compared Oracle's actions with Sun Tzu's The Art of War.

Despite what may seem good reason to believe that the worst is over, hold on to your hats. There's still plenty of drama in store, and for now, it seems likely that this situation is going to drag on... and on.

Check out our Oracle board for solid discussion on the various angles impacting the Oracle/PeopleSoft scuffle. And don't miss our recent Fool's Duel on Oracle: See whether you favor the bull side or the bear side on the stock.

Alyce Lomaxdoes not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.


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