Oracle Tops Earnings Expectations

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison kept up the hype on the company's pursuit of PeopleSoft during the database behemoth's fourth-quarter 2003 earnings report Thursday.

Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison kept up the hype on the companys pursuit of PeopleSoft Inc. during the database behemoths fourth-quarter 2003 earnings report Thursday, saying that the only difference between Oracles offer and an earlier plan to merge the two companies is that Oracles plan wouldnt feature PeopleSoft President and CEO Craig Conway in charge.

"A year ago, Mr. Conway approached me with the idea of combining the Oracle applications business with the PeopleSoft applications business," Ellison said during a live Webcast of the earnings report. "He identified himself as the right person to run that business."

A little while later, Ellison said, Conway "suddenly" saw that the combined duo would present antitrust concerns, referring to PeopleSofts board of directors recently having cited antitrust concerns as a disincentive when recommending to shareholders that they reject the offer.

"Mr. Conway would be running the combined companies in his proposal," Ellison said. "In ours he would not. Thats the only change."

However, Ellison did refer to another change that the merger would bring: Oracles promise that customers of a merged Oracle/PeopleSoft would be allowed to migrate when and if they want, with no attached licensing fees and to whatever product they choose. "Were saying no choice is a bad thing," Ellison said. "We think PeopleSoft customers deserve the right to choose. They can choose to stay on PeopleSoft 7, they can choose to upgrade to PeopleSoft 8 at no additional charge, or they can choose to migrate to Oracle eBusiness Suite, with no licensing fees required."

Ellison also heaped scorn on PeopleSofts bid to merge with J.D. Edwards & Co., which PeopleSoft announced early last week, a few days before Oracle launched its hostile takeover. Ellison cited PeopleSofts most recent quarter, during which new applications sales fell 39 percent. Oracles own new-applications sales rose a smidgen, at less than 1 percent, during the same time frame. Meanwhile, J.D. Edwards lost money.