European Regulators Halt Oracle–PeopleSoft Investigation

The European Commission is suspending its investigation into the antitrust implications of Oracle's proposed acquisition of PeopleSoft while it awaits additional information from Oracle.

The European Commission has taken a little heat off of Oracle Corp., saying this week that it is suspending its investigation into the antitrust implications of Oracles proposed acquisition of PeopleSoft Inc.

The commission, which has the power to block the proposed $9.4 billion deal from going through in Europe, is halting its investigation while it awaits additional information from Oracle. A final report on the investigation had been expected from the EC by May 11, but now there is no projected date for that report.

Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., initially made its hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., last summer. PeopleSoft directors and management have consistently fought the effort. The U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys general from a handful of states are also looking to block the deal, arguing that if the merger goes through there will be only two competitors in the enterprise software business—Oracle and market leader SAP AG.

Attorneys general from Ohio and Michigan just joined the DOJs suit last week.

Oracle officials said they are working with the European Commission in its investigation as required.

/zimages/4/28571.gifAre Michigan and the DOJ hypocrites? Click here for Lisa Vaas take.

"We can confirm that we have received a request from the European Commission for additional information on our proposed transaction for PeopleSoft. We will continue to cooperate with the Commission and will respond as quickly as possible," said Oracle spokesman Jim Finn, in a statement.

A PeopleSoft executive took issue with the claim that Oracle is cooperating with regulators

"Oracles delay in complying with the ECs requests for information is consistent with their attempt to drag out the DOJ process in the U.S., and underscores what weve been saying for many months—that Oracle appears to be intentionally delaying matter as part of its effort to damage our business," said Kara Wilson, PeopleSofts vice president of corporate communications. "This is the second time the EC has stopped the clock due directly to Oracles failure to provide information requested by the EC."

Wilson said Oracle has been taking the same foot-dragging stance in the courts. At a hearing this week in California state court in the case PeopleSoft brought against Oracle to stop the takeover, Oracle requested that a trial in the matter be slated for mid-2005. PeopleSoft asked the judge to begin the trial in early October 2004.

The judge in that case is expected to announce next week when the court will hold a trial, Wilson said.

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