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By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2004-02-02 Print this article Print

Oracle spokeswoman Jennifer Glass said the company is not surprised by PeopleSofts early shareholder meeting. "PeopleSoft management wants its shareholders to vote on its board slate before they have a chance to see the results of the first quarter," said Glass, "particularly since PeopleSoft just lowered its guidance for the quarter." The March 25 meeting will not prevent PeopleSoft shareholders from voting on Oracles proposed slate, according to Glass.
Though its estimated it would take Oracle at least two years to overcome PeopleSofts board by a majority, Oracle is steadfast in its goal: force PeopleSoft to remove its poison pill anti-takeover measure, and its controversial Customer Assurance Program that looks to refund customers between two and five times their license fees should certain conditions—namely a takeover —be met.
PeopleSofts board has twice denied Oracles tender offer. In both cases it said the offer undervalues PeopleSoft based on its current financial performance and future potential. Last Thursday PeopleSoft reported fourth-quarter earnings of $685 million—a 34 percent increase over the same quarter last year—which put to rest Oracles contention that the company is performing poorly. While Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., has steadfastly refused to up the ante in its $19.50-per-share bid—despite PeopleSoft trading on average $3 per share above Oracles asking price—some experts speculate that PeopleSofts most recent earnings could signal an upward change in Oracles bid. The proposed acquisition is currently under antitrust investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, the European Commission and more than half the countrys state Attorneys General. A spokesman from the DOJ said Monday the departments investigation is ongoing, as did a spokesman from the California Attorney Generals office, which represents the 31 state AGs involved in that investigation. In related news Oracles CEO Larry Ellison and Chairman and CFO Jeff Henley announced last Friday a change in the way they sell their stock. Each executive adopted pre-arranged stock trading plans to sell their stock over time, enabling them to gradually diversify their investment portfolios. Under his plan, Ellison may sell up to 120 million shares over one year and gift up to 3.3 million shares to his company, Ellison Medical Foundation, leaving him with 24 percent of Oracles outstanding shares. At the same time, Henley can sell up to 3 million shares over the next six months, leaving him 11.6 million Oracle shares. In a media roundtable discussion last week, Ellison said he did not know if Oracle owns PeopleSoft shares.


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