SAP quiet until Retek responds

SAP AG is waiting for retail software maker Retek Inc. to respond to its acquisition offer before commenting on a counter bid from arch rival Oracle Corp., SAP’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said Thursday.

“We cannot comment on this development until we have heard from Retek,” said SAP CEO Henning Kagermann at a news conference at the Cebit trade show. “When we hear from Retek, then we can talk again.”

SAP had said last week that buying Retek would help it offer a comprehensive software system that extends from point of sale through the entire retail supply chain. The deal was approved by Minneapolis-based Retek’s board of directors, and was expected to close in early April, pending regulatory approval.

On Tuesday, Oracle announced a bid of its own for Retek, besting the US$496 million offer SAP made last week by almost 6 percent.

In a letter to Retek’s board of directors, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison offered $9 per share for all outstanding shares of Retek, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. SAP had agreed to pay $8.50 per share.

“Oracle’s applications business in North America is larger than SAP’s. We intend to defend our number one position,” Ellison said in a press release. Oracle also said Tuesday that it had purchased 10 percent of Retek’s outstanding shares in the past two days. Oracle has already drafted joint product road maps and would add Retek’s products to Oracle’s E-Business Suite portfolio, Ellison said in his letter to Retek’s board.

Responding with a statement on Wednesday, SAP said it is in a better position to offer Retek customers a swift and easy path to Microsoft Corp.’s .NET and the Java programming environments as well as to other third-party applications through its SAP NetWeaver integration and application platform.

Retek sells a broad range of retail-based applications, including software for operations management, supply chain planning and execution, merchandise planning, and product demand forecasting. The company has more than 200 customers in more than 20 countries.

Kagermann said that the retail sector is important to SAP. “It’s a growth market,” he said. “We have a high commitment to it.”

The German CEO declined to comment on whether SAP is prepared to enter into a bidding war with Oracle, which acquired PeopleSoft Inc. for US$10.3 billion.

With files from Stacy Cowley

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