US moves to block Oracle bid for PeopleSoft

  • Business
  • Saturday, 28 Feb 2004

WASHINGTON: Oracle Corp has reacted sharply to US antitrust authorities’ move to block its proposed US$9.4bil acquisition of software rival PeopleSoft Inc, vowing to fight the Department of Justice’s complaint in court. 

“We believe that the government’s case is without basis in fact or in law, and we look forward to proving this in court,” said Jim Finn, an Oracle spokesman. 

The Justice Department said in a complaint filed in federal court in San Francisco on Thursday that the hostile takeover would hurt competition by eliminating one of only three players in the market for software sold to large business customers to manage finances, human resources, sales forces and other business functions. 

“We believe this transaction is anti-competitive – pure and simple,” said Hewitt Pate, the department’s antitrust chief. “Blocking this deal protects competition that benefits major businesses, as well as government agencies that depend on competition to get the best value for taxpayers’ dollars.” 

Attorneys-general from Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, and Texas would be joining the lawsuit, the department said. 

Oracle had earlier in the day issued a statement blaming the decision on an intense lobbying campaign by PeopleSoft. 

PeopleSoft, for its part, issued a statement calling on Oracle to drop the deal “now that the antitrust day of reckoning has arrived”. 

Pate said in a press briefing that antitrust attorneys at the department had met Oracle before making their decision. He said Oracle had made no offers to the department to settle the case. 

PeopleSoft has argued that Oracle launched its takeover bid in June last year to disrupt the market for business application software. Oracle has raised its bid several times in an effort to win over PeopleSoft, but the offers have all been rejected. – Reuters

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