PeopleSoft user group to host Oracle executive

In an ironic turn of events, a somewhat disgruntled PeopleSoft Inc. user group is planning to host none other than Oracle Corp. president Chuck Phillips at an upcoming educational event.

Oracle is in the middle of a very public and acrimonious takeover attempt of PeopleSoft, a decision in which Phillips has been seen as Oracle’s point man. Even so, the Quest user group, which PeopleSoft inherited after its buyout of J.D. Edwards & Co. last summer, announced Friday that Phillips would attend a regional conference in San Diego to answer questions about Oracle’s proposed US$9.4 billion bid. While there, Phillips plans to discuss Oracle’s positions on the J.D. Edwards applications, now called EnterpriseOne and PeopleSoft World.

Quest and PeopleSoft recently engaged in a very public feud over PeopleSoft’s reluctance to offer support for Quest events.

“Quest is continually devoted to providing customers a forum for open exchange and unbiased information,” said Barbara Schmit, Quest president, in an online statement. “We are acting on behalf of all customers to have our issues addressed. Quest is in no way interested in promoting Oracle’s takeover attempt, but only in having customer concerns addressed in a factual, timely manner.”

The organization decided that when Oracle recently upped its offer to US$26 per share for PeopleSoft, the time had come to get a sense of what Oracle might do if its efforts succeed.

Quest has also invited PeopleSoft to attend the event but had received no response as of Friday. A board member of the group stressed that the decision to hear Phillips out is not designed to foster an actual debate between the two sides of the takeover fight.

“We think there is tremendous value in calling them on the carpet and finding out their plans for OneWorld or World software should this hostile takeover occur,” said Quest board member John Matelski, who is also deputy CIO of the city of Orlando. “I have a decision to make associated with my ERP investment and need sound information, not just corporate rhetoric or media speculation.”

In particular, Matelski said he wants to know if Oracle would spin off the J.D. Edwards line of software, since Oracle executives expressed ambivalence about the PeopleSoft-J.D. Edwards merger before it closed last year. “I’m not going to hide my head in the sand and let things happen,” he said.

He also said Quest’s relationship with PeopleSoft has not changed, and the company still has no plans to support Quest’s events.

Neither Oracle nor PeopleSoft returned requests for comment Friday.

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