PeopleSoft extends customer refund offer

PeopleSoft Inc. is once again extending a customer refund offer aimed at fending off Oracle Corp.’s hostile takeover attempt.

The Pleasanton, Calif., company will continue the return offer until March 31, or until Oracle terminates its US$7.3 billion tender offer, it said in a filing submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Tuesday. PeopleSoft told the SEC last year that the program would expire on Dec. 31.

PeopleSoft introduced its Customer Assurance Program shortly after Oracle announced its takeover bid last June, saying that it would offer customers refunds of up to five times the price of the software they purchased if the company was acquired and the products were discontinued.

The scheme could potentially cost Oracle hundreds of millions of dollars in customer refunds, making its buy of PeopleSoft financially prohibitive. Oracle has already sued to block PeopleSoft’s anti-takeover attempts, saying that the company is thwarting shareholder choice.

Oracle representatives were not immediately available to comment on the latest refund extension Wednesday.

PeopleSoft also said in the filing Tuesday that it has authorized the repurchase of up to US$200 million of its own stock, as it seeks to gain greater control.

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