PeopleSoft Inc. commenced its exchange offer for all shares of J.D. Edwards & Co. Thursday, in an effort to speed up the US$1.75 billion acquisition in the face of Oracle Corp.’s stepped-up bid to buy PeopleSoft.

Under the offer, PeopleSoft is offering J.D. Edwards shareholders cash or PeopleSoft common stock for their shares in the Denver-based enterprise software provider. The deal has been sweetened since PeopleSoft’s initial US$1.7 billion, all-stock offer for the company, in the hopes of closing the transaction as soon as possible.

PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards are attempting to head off Oracle’s bid to buy PeopleSoft, which could sink their merger.

Still, the companies don’t expect the transaction to close until the third quarter of this year, and Oracle has shown no intentions of backing down from its efforts to snap up PeopleSoft.

In fact, the Redwood City, Calif., company announced that it was increasing its bid for PeopleSoft to US$6.3 billion Wednesday, while at the same time saying it was suing PeopleSoft, its board of directors and J.D. Edwards for “eliminating” shareholders ability to accept its offer. [Please see Oracle increases offer, sues PeopleSoft.]

PeopleSoft said that its exchange offer for J.D. Edwards shares would expire at midnight EDT on July 17, unless extended.

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