Oh, have mercy. Will it never end?

Last night, database maker Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) once again extended its $7.7 billion offer for business software provider PeopleSoft (NASDAQ:PSFT). This is the 10th time Oracle has extended its offer. The latest extension goes through midnight on Sept. 10.

Fellow Fool W.D. Crotty and I have dueled over the prospects for Oracle, and the merits of a deal for PeopleSoft were key to each of our arguments. (You can read both cases and vote here.)

Frankly, I think Oracle CEO Larry Ellison should persist as long as he thinks he's getting a fair price for PeopleSoft. After all, the combination of the two firms would generate a mountain of high-margin maintenance revenue from software customers are totally dependent on.

But there are plenty of hurdles to completing the deal, not the least of which is the Justice Department's lawsuit, which claims the deal is anti-competitive. Court proceedings in the case came to a close on July 20, and Judge Vaughn Walker's decision is said to be imminent.

Published reports have suggested that Oracle's strong courtroom performance makes a victory for the database king possible where such an outcome was once considered a long shot. That, folks, makes for great theater. But it means nothing to Oracle and PeopleSoft investors.

Yeah, that's right. Nada.

Even if Oracle wins, it's highly unlikely that it will be able to spend a dime on PeopleSoft till after another key lawsuit that would force PeopleSoft to drop its poison pill defense is settled. And were Oracle to win that tussle, Ellison would have to convince former protégé Craig Conway to talk with him about a deal. Thus far, Conway has proved intractable.

The major problem with this brouhaha is that it's distracting investors from the potential profits in the stocks of both firms. After all, Oracle's offer for PeopleSoft as of this writing represents a 21% premium, and a combined company could churn out loads of cash for years to come. And, with or without PeopleSoft, my estimates show Oracle's cash flow growth could juice its enterprise value over 40% over the next three years. Those are decent returns, especially in a stock market that has all but treaded water this year.

For more Fool coverage of Oracle's bid to buy PeopleSoft:

  • The duel over Oracle's prospects remains a tight race.
  • Even with the PeopleSoft debacle, Oracle turned in a strong fourth quarter.
  • Oracle's courtroom challenge to the Feds over its bid for PeopleSoft has been entertaining.
  • But some don't like the brouhaha. They need to act more like owners.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers aims to acquire some Oracle shares, but he'll have to wait since we've got a pretty strong disclosure policy here at the Fool. Fortunately, he thinks the shares will still be on sale next week. He has no plans to acquire PeopleSoft stock. You can view Tim's Fool profile here.