DOJ clears PeopleSoft’s JDE buy

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has ended its review of PeopleSoft Inc.’s planned acquisition of J.D. Edwards & Co., clearing the way for the transaction to close later this month, PeopleSoft said Monday.

PeopleSoft Chief Executive Officer Craig Conway hailed the DOJ approval as great news. PeopleSoft, in Pleasanton, Calif., has been racing to close the acquisition, announced in early June and valued at about US$1.75 billion, ever since Oracle Corp. launched a hostile bid to take over PeopleSoft.

PeopleSoft’s planned deal with J.D. Edwards, based in Denver, would bring together two of the largest providers of enterprise applications, allowing PeopleSoft to push Oracle aside as the number-two vendor in that market, behind SAP AG.

When Oracle first launched its bid, days after PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards announced their plans to combine, company executives expressed a preference for buying PeopleSoft before it could swallow J.D. Edwards. But Oracle executives responded Monday to news of the DOJ’s decision by pledging to complete their takeover plans, even if J.D. Edwards is part of the package.

“We remain fully committed to acquiring PeopleSoft, with or without J.D. Edwards,” Oracle spokesperson Jim Finn said in a written statement.

Oracle, based in Redwood Shores, Calif., also on Monday extended for the second time the deadline on its tender offer to acquire PeopleSoft shares. Oracle is offering PeopleSoft shareholders US$19.50 in cash, for a total of US$6.3 billion, in exchange for a majority ownership stake in PeopleSoft. The offer’s July 18 expiration has been pushed back to Aug. 15, Oracle said.

By the close of business last Friday, 43.8 million shares had been tendered in and not withdrawn from the offer, Oracle said. With 316.6 million shares of PeopleSoft’s stock outstanding, that translates to a 13.8 per cent response rate from PeopleSoft’s shareholders to Oracle’s offer.