PeopleSoft Warming To Oracle's Offer?
What Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has longed to hear from PeopleSoft behind closed doors instead floated to the surface in a Delaware courthouse.
During the proceedings of Oracle's legal challenges to PeopleSoft's anti-takeover provisions, published reports quote PeopleSoft Director Steven Goldby as saying, "If there's an indication that they would pay what we consider to be the right price, and there's a possibility that we could close the transaction quickly, I'm open to discussions with Oracle." Goldby heads up PeopleSoft's transaction committee, comprising the PeopleSoft board's independent directors. The committee is charged with dealing with Oracle's offer, and initiated action to dismiss CEO Craig Conway last week. Company founder Dave Duffield replaced Conway at the helm.
In statements and conference calls over the past week, PeopleSoft representatives have emphasized that the company's overall outlook on Oracle's offers remains unchanged--even as the public face the company puts on its response has varied wildly since Conway's departure. For his part Conway spent the day in court defending his often venomous statements about Oracle and Ellison, and stood firm in his evaluation of the Oracle bid as a negative for PeopleSoft. "We thought it was a destructive offer," Conway is quoted as saying in published reports.
Oracle's offer of $21 per share of PeopleSoft is less than the current market price of PeopleSoft stock, although an earlier offer of $26 per share would eclipse the going rate.
"[N]o matter which way the Oracle-PeopleSoft yarn ends, Oracle has made eminently clear its willingness to use major acquisitions to shake up the applications world," writes Ian Jacobs, senior CRM analyst at Current Analysis, in an October 1 research report. Jacobs believes that a major consolidation of CRM vendors is now a foregone conclusion, even if it is not the fruit of the current contentious takeover battle. "If [Oracle] ends up with PeopleSoft, the CRM market shakes; if it eventually loses, the CRM market shakes, wondering who is next on Oracle's list."
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