European Commission Opposes Oracles PeopleSoft Bid

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2004-03-15

European Commission Opposes Oracles PeopleSoft Bid

The European Commission is joining its U.S. counterpart in fighting Oracle Corp.s hostile takeover bid of PeopleSoft Inc.

Oracle said on Friday it received a Statement of Objections from the Commission regarding the proposed merger—almost a full month earlier than the Commissions self-imposed May 11 deadline.

The European watchdog launched an antitrust investigation shortly after the U.S. Department of Justice began a deeper investigation into the deal last June, less than a month after Oracle announced its intent to acquire PeopleSoft.

On Feb. 26 the Justice Department filed suit against Oracle in a San Francisco federal court to try to block the $9.4 billion deal. While the EC hasnt disclosed the details of its complaint, its expected to follow the Justices lead into court, on similar grounds.

Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general with the Justice Department, said a merger between Oracle and PeopleSoft—the No. 2 and 3 application providers in the world—would be harmful to the software market. Should the deal go through, it would result in less competition, less innovation and increased software prices, according to Pate.

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The deal would ultimately reduce competition from three vendors to two vying for the top e-business software deals: Oracle and SAP AG, according to the Justice Department.

Oracle contends that the market is rife with competition beyond itself, PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., and SAP, of Walldorf, Germany.

Despite the second global regulatory authoritys decision to fight the deal, Oracle said it is pleased to have clarity on the Commissions key issues.

"We will address these issues through our written right of reply and in our hearing testimony," Oracle spokesman Jim Finn said in a statement. "The process is ongoing, and we are confident that the Commission will see how competitive this business truly is."

PeopleSoft, for its part, said in a statement that the Commissions Statement of Objections supports its board of directors position that the merger would face "substantial regulatory scrutiny."

The Justice Departments case against Oracle is expected to go to trial June 7.

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