Oracle to launch proxy battle to snag PeopleSoft

Executives from Oracle Corp. reaffirmed their intention to pursue the company’s much-publicized attempt to buy PeopleSoft Inc. and said Oracle plans to propose its own slate of pro-acquisition directors for PeopleSoft shareholders to vote on next year.

However, that’s only one piece of the overall Oracle strategy, said executive vice-president Safra Catz, who fielded questions with two other company officials in a Web conference Monday. Catz explained that, in addition to fielding its own slate in January, there “were many possible outcomes” and “too many possible combinations to map out to you.”

Oracle has been the unwanted suitor of PeopleSoft since June, after that company launched its own friendly takeover of rival J.D. Edwards & Co. Looking to dispel rumours that Oracle has thrown in the towel because of PeopleSoft’s formidable refund offer, as well as other poison pill provisions, Catz and another executive vice-president, Chuck Phillips, along with chief financial officer Jeff Henley, took the initiative today.

“We remain committed,” said Phillips, who added that the “transaction is progressing as expected.” He reiterated the benefits to customers, such as a commitment from Oracle to support PeopleSoft applications for 10 years, as well as potential access to a high-quality global customer support arm.

However, Oracle won’t pay “any unreasonable” price, nor is the PeopleSoft deal the only potential merger Oracle is investigating.

Nevertheless, Oracle faces scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice, which is looking into the merger for possible antitrust violations, as well as from the European Commission.

Catz acknowledged the challenging nature of this particular buyout, since it’s the first of its kind in the complex enterprise software market, and therefore a difficult one for regulators to grasp.

She said the looming January deadline for the proxy battle means Oracle will have to submit its own slate of candidates for the board of directors even if it hasn’t yet received the regulatory go-ahead.

The vote won’t occur for months afterward, by which time she expects official clearance to have been granted.