Oracle again extends offer for PeopleSoft

Oracle Corp.’s hostile bid to acquire rival enterprise software maker PeopleSoft Inc. for US$7.7 billion is set to continue for a bit longer.

Oracle filed Thursday one of its now-routine offer extensions, this time pushing the expiration deadline from Aug. 27 to Sept. 10. Oracle has extended its bid’s deadline 10 times since launching the takeover campaign in June 2003.

One wrinkle in the saga is an increasing interest among shareholders in accepting Oracle’s offer. More than a year ago, soon after Oracle announced its takeover plans, it had 34.8 million shares tendered into the offer. That number steadily dwindled over the next year, to a low of 4.7 million tendered shares in mid-July.

Oracle said Thursday it now has 21.7 million tendered shares — six per cent of PeopleSoft;s outstanding total. Oracle is offering shareholders US$21 cash per share, a premium on PeopleSoft’s recent trading price. The company’s shares (PSFT) closed Thursday trading on the Nasdaq exchange at US$17.25.

The extension of Oracle’s tender offer is just the latest chapter in the ongoing drama between the two companies.

In July, the trial phase of a U.S. government lawsuit to stop Oracle’s takeover bid came to an end. In that suit, the U.S. Department of Justice argued Oracle’s acquisition of PeopleSoft would stifle competition and lead to higher prices in the enterprise software market.

The judge’s decision in that case, set to occur in the weeks following the trial’s end on July 20, is believed to be imminent.

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