Oracle e-Mails Raise Questions About Motive

Court documents regarding PeopleSoft takeover put Oracle in an unseemly light.

The release of uncensored court documents around Oracle Corp.s hostile bid for PeopleSoft Inc. has raised the mudslinging between the two companies to a near fever pitch.

Citing internal documents and e-mails in a lawsuit trying to block the proposed $7 billion takeover, PeopleSoft claims it can prove Oracles antagonistic attempt to ruin its business—and not necessarily through acquisition.

Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., launched a takeover bid of PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., in early June, just days after PeopleSoft announced its intent to acquire J.D. Edwards & Co. As a result, PeopleSoft filed suit in Alameda County, Calif., to stop Oracles actions. It amended the suit Aug. 12, with new evidence—much of it removed from public documents until yesterday, when the information was leaked to a local California newspaper, according to a PeopleSoft spokesman.


At issue is Oracles supposed intent to create uncertainty among PeopleSoft customers, to harm PeopleSofts business by causing the share price to drop and to discontinue support of PeopleSofts software should the takeover prove successful.

"Weve certainly wounded PSFT. ... Even if we dont end up closing the deal, this is going to take PSFT time to recover. ... And, of course, our corporate image of being aggressive, brash, and marching to the tune of a different drummer has been reinforced," read one e-mail from an unidentified Oracle executive, who referred to PeopleSoft by it stock ticker symbol.

Additional internal Oracle documents reveal that Oracle prepared a marketing, sales and public relations program designed to injure PeopleSoft, in the hopes that the companys stock price would fall, making Oracles initial $16-per-share offer look favorable, according to the un-redacted court documents.

"The more something hurts PSFT, the more likely that share price drops and $16 starts to look better," said the unidentified Oracle executive.

Oracle later amended its offer to $19.50 a share, where it stands today.

Next page: Will Oracle support PeopleSoft software?