PeopleSoft Tells Off Oracle

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By LouAnn Lofton (TMF Bling)
June 12, 2003

PeopleSoft's (Nasdaq: PSFT) board has a message for Larry Ellison and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL). To put it politely, Oracle can forget about its all-cash $5.1 billion unsolicited bid for PeopleSoft. The board doesn't want it and suggests that shareholders refuse Oracle's money, as well.

Capping off what has been nearly a week of drama so intense it seems more like a cheesy reality TV show than a proposed business transaction, PeopleSoft's move doesn't mean the matter is over yet. Oracle can keep its $16-a-share offer open until July 7, and can extend the offer beyond that point. It can also up its bid beyond $16 a share, something many see as necessary if Oracle really wants PeopleSoft, given that its shares are currently trading above $17.

Oracle reports fourth-quarter earnings after the market's close today, so expect some choice words from Ellison on PeopleSoft's recent action.

PeopleSoft's chief Craig Conway has had some harsh words himself for Oracle and Ellison recently. He characterized the hostile bid as "atrociously bad behavior from a company with a history of atrociously bad behavior."

He also accused Oracle of wanting to "kill" PeopleSoft, after the database giant admitted that it had no intention of selling PeopleSoft products should its acquisition go through. Oracle plans to integrate PeopleSoft's features into Oracle products, and will allow current PeopleSoft customers to "upgrade" to Oracle.

We also can't overlook the fact that Conway is an Ellison prot�g�. He was an Oracle marketing executive from 1985-1993. He turned PeopleSoft around beginning in 1999, but his animosity for his former boss has never wavered. This is a man who once called Ellison "sociopathic," after all.

Whatever happens next in this little cat and mouse game is anyone's guess. We'll be listening closely, though, to hear which CEO gets in the next jab.

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