J.D. Edwards sues Oracle over PeopleSoft bid

J.D. Edwards & Co. filed two lawsuits against Oracle Corp. Thursday seeking damages and an order that will block Oracle’s bid for PeopleSoft Inc.

J.D. Edwards filed suit in a Colorado state court claiming Oracle “tortiously interfered” with its proposed merger with PeopleSoft. The Denver-based company is seeking U$1.7 billion in compensatory damages and an unspecified amount in punitive damages, the company said in a statement.

Another lawsuit by J.D. Edwards was filed in a California state court against Oracle and two of its executives: Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Larry Ellison and Executive Vice-President Chuck Phillips. J.D. Edwards alleges they engaged in wrongful conduct and unfair business practices and seeks an order to block Oracle’s hostile bid for PeopleSoft.

The lawsuits are the latest twists in a nasty battle over Oracle’s attempted takeover of PeopleSoft, a major competitor in the enterprise applications market. It comes days after Oracle said PeopleSoft backed off from its own effort to take Oracle to court.

Oracle launched a hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft on June 6, just after PeopleSoft’s June 2 announcement that it had agreed to buy J.D. Edwards.

J.D. Edwards believes Oracle’s sole aim is to disrupt PeopleSoft’s acquisition of J.D. Edwards and thereby “destroy value” for those companies’ shareholders, customers and employees and the IT community overall.

“We will not sit by idly while Oracle pursues this arrogant, unlawful and destructive course of action,” Bob Dutkowsky, chairman, president and CEO of J.D. Edwards, said in the statement.

Oracle said in a written statement that PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards are sidelining their shareholders, instead opting to fight in the courts. “We believe that this case has no merit whatsoever,” Oracle said.

The Redwood Shores, Calif., database vendor plans to stop selling PeopleSoft products after completing the proposed takeover, it has said. Also, Oracle has said PeopleSoft’s plans to buy J.D. Edwards would be subject to review once it acquired the Pleasanton, California-based rival.

PeopleSoft earlier on Thursday said its board of directors voted unanimously to recommend shareholders reject Oracle’s US$5.1 billion bid. J.D. Edwards strongly backed PeopleSoft’s rejection of Oracle’s bid.

Oracle will benefit from its bold offer for PeopleSoft whether the deal goes through or not, financial analysts have said. The offer creates doubt in the minds of IT buyers regarding the future viability of PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards, which could make buyers pick Oracle for their IT needs, analysts said.

J.D. Edwards in its Colorado lawsuit said it “has already suffered harm caused directly by Oracle’s tortious conduct in interfering with prospective relations between J.D. Edwards and its current and prospective customer base.”

“Indeed, Oracle really seeks to accomplish two anticompetitive goals with its offer: prevent its two closest competitors from combining to become greater than Oracle; and eliminate its most immediate competitor, PeopleSoft, from the marketplace altogether,” J.D. Edwards said in its complaint filed in Colorado.