EC freezes investigation of Oracle’s PeopleSoft bid

The European Commission has paused its probe of Oracle Corp.’s hostile, multibillion bid to buy rival PeopleSoft Inc., in order to gather more information about the notified takeover.

The Commission has sent Oracle a request for information, Commission spokeswoman for competition issues Amelia Torres said Monday. She declined to say, however, what details were missing from Oracle’s official notification of its plans, filed to the Commission in October.

There is no deadline for a reply to the Commission’s request.

“It is in the company’s interests to reply as quickly as possible,” she said. The Commission was due to conclude the in-depth investigation of the deal by March 30. No new deadline has been set.

The investigation focuses on enterprise application software used by multinationals in coordinating financial planning, human resources, customer relations and supply chain management.

If Oracle and PeopleSoft were to join forces, it would reduce the number of big suppliers of business enterprise software to two from three, leaving Germany’s SAP AG still the largest single supplier.

However, the chances of Oracle succeeding in its attempt to acquire PeopleSoft is increasingly in doubt, as PeopleSoft has pulled out all the stops in efforts to ward off the hostile bid. These efforts included filing a lawsuit against Oracle, charging, among other things, that the software company launched its acquisition bid solely to damage PeopleSoft’s chances of successfully merging with software company J.D. Edwards & Co.

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