Oracle Pulls PeopleSoft Shocker

Customers reject the move as competitive gamesmanship, claiming it was likely made to force PeopleSoft to empty its cash reserves since PeopleSoft may have to close the J.D. Edwards deal sooner to stave off Oracle's takeover.

Capping a week of consolidation in the enterprise applications space, Oracle Corp. announced Friday a $5.1 billion cash tender offer for PeopleSoft Inc., a move analysts and customers rejected as competitive gamesmanship.

The proposed takeover, coupled with PeopleSofts planned acquisition of J.D. Edwards & Co. announced earlier in the week, would create a $5.5 billion business and capture 27 percent of ERP (enterprise resource planning) market share. That would be second only to SAP AG, which has $7.4 billion in ERP revenues and 36 percent market share, according to numbers released last week by AMR Research Inc., of Boston.

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, PeopleSoft President and CEO Craig Conway described Oracles offer as "atrociously bad behavior from a company with a history of atrociously bad behavior. Obviously it is a transparent attempt to disrupt the acquisition of J.D. Edwards by PeopleSoft announced earlier this week." The company and its board of directors will review the offer as required by law and will provide a definitive recommendation to shareholders shortly thereafter, the statement said.

Oracles swallowing up PeopleSoft may please shareholders but likely would not be welcomed by many PeopleSoft customers. "We would not want to see Oracle acquire PeopleSoft," said Al Jones, IT business systems manager at Environmental Systems Products Holdings Inc., in East Granby, Conn. "There needs to be competition to drive real innovations and new product directions. Having a couple of big players consolidating the market would not be good."

Kelly Cox, an Oracle database administrator who owns a small consultancy in Alexandria, Va., had a similar view. "If Oracle bought [PeopleSoft and, by default, J.D. Edwards] and intends to merge the tools, Id think that would be a disservice. It reduces competition in that market. I think competition is healthy, and a lot of people feel that way."