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Wed, Jul 16, 2003 - Page 12 News List

PeopleSoft wins round one against Oracle

AFP , PLEASANTON, CALIFORNIA

Software group PeopleSoft struck a blow Monday against a US$6.3 billion hostile bid by Oracle Corp, winning government clearance for a friendly merger with JD Edwards.

But Oracle appeared undaunted, saying it would pursue the hotly-opposed takeover attempt whether or not the merger went ahead.

It also extended the bid by nearly a month until August 15.

PeopleSoft said the US Department of Justice had decided to terminate the waiting period required under antitrust legislation for its friendly, US$1.75 billion acquisition of JD Edwards.

"The Department of Justice's decision to grant early termination is great news," said PeopleSoft president and chief executive Craig Conway.

"This is a very important milestone and clears the way for the JD Edwards acquisition to be completed," he said.

Oracle Corp, which launched its bid early last month, said it had so far acquired 43.77 million PeopleSoft shares -- about 13.8 percent of the outstanding stock.

The offer, which had been expected to expire midnight Friday, was now being lengthened for almost another month -- until midnight August 15.

"We are extending our offer for PeopleSoft and we remain fully committed to acquiring PeopleSoft, with or without JD Edwards," said Oracle spokesman Jim Finn.

The Oracle bid for PeopleSoft had already taken a hit June 30, when the US Justice Department announced it was extending an antitrust review of the hostile bid.

PeopleSoft has fought a fierce rearguard action against an Oracle takeover, saying it remains committed to its own plan for a friendly merger with sector rival JD Edwards.

In a letter to shareholders this month, PeopleSoft said a tie-up with JD Edwards was "a strong and financially compelling business combination" while the Oracle bid "poses extraordinary risks and is destructive to stockholder value."

Oracle has sued PeopleSoft, charging that its board of directors is in breach of its duties to the company's shareholders.

For their part, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards both have sued to block Oracle's takeover.

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