BEA Counters Oracles Bid

 
 
By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2007-10-25
 
 
 

The ball is back in Oracles court. BEA said Oct. 25 that it is prepared to talk about a sale of the company to Oracle—or any other potential bidders that have yet to step forward—at a price of $21 per share.

The $21 per share price tag is $4 higher than Oracles offer.

Oracle has twice made overtures to acquire BEA at $17 per share. Its first bid, offered privately to the company Oct. 9 and announced Oct. 12, was rebuffed by BEAs board of directors as too low. Thursdays acknowledgement from BEAs board comes after Oracle earlier this week set Oct. 28 as a deadline to its "final" offer of $17 per share.

Oracle has been known in the past to volley with competitors its interested in acquiring. During an 18-month takeover battle with PeopleSoft that ended—with Oracle victorious—in 2005, Oracle made at least four "best and final" offers, with buyout prices fluctuating between $19.50 and $26.50 per share. Oracle eventually coughed up $26.50 per share, or more than $10 billion, for PeopleSoft.

In the meanwhile, Oracle has long had its sights on BEA. And in classic Oracle style, the companys CEO, Larry Ellison, has publicly denigrated BEAs performance—a strategy, it seems, to acquire the middleware developer at a low premium.

BEA has indeed stumbled in recent years, with market share declining despite its market-leading technology. To further muddle the companys value, BEA has not stated its earnings since 2006 because of accounting problems resulting from a stock-options snafu.

The companys board has said on a number of occasions since Oracle initially launched its bid for BEA that the $6.6 billion offer undervalued the company.

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