Ellison Downplays PeopleSoft Takeover at CEO Briefing

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was mostly mum on his company's takeover battle during an executive conference in San Francisco. His subdued performance followed PeopleSoft's annoucement that DoJ staff were sour on the deal.

Speaking at the Merrill Lynch & Co.s Computer & Software CEO Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Larry Ellison—the typically outspoken CEO of Oracle Corp.—had little to say about his companys ongoing battle to acquire PeopleSoft Inc.

Oracle launched its bid to acquire PeopleSoft last June. After eight months of wrangling—including a thrice-rejected tender offer that now stands at $9.4 billion; a proxy battle; and antitrust investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice, the European Commission and more than half the U.S. State Attorneys General—the battle could be facing an end.

Late on Tuesday PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., announced that the Justice Departments Antitrust Division staff recommended that its senior staff oppose the deal.


Perhaps because of the caliber of the crowd at the Merrill symposium—CEOs who drive Mercedes, as pointed out by Ellison—the question of how Oracle views the Justice Departments preliminary decision never came up.

During an unscripted audience question-and-answer period, one attendee asked Ellison his stance on new company acquisitions and whether buying private companies "filled in the white spaces" for Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif.

"PeopleSoft is an unusual transaction for us," said Ellison. "We can make an investment in a startup, but there is not very much of that any more. Usually, our behavior is identical to Microsoft. We have the fundamental belief that you have to build property. You really cant buy that. If you want the pieces to be integrated, you just cant buy them."

During his brief appearance at the CEO conference, Ellison focused primarily on integration—the new focus for Oracle and its E-Business Suite.

At its annual AppsWorld user conference held in San Diego late last month, Oracle announced that the next iteration of its suite will be more open for integration with third-party applications.

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