SAP Backing Oracles Market Definition

SAP will pen a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice outlining its definition of the software market as more closely aligned with rival Oracle.

As the company Oracle Corp. is trying to compete more handily with acquiring PeopleSoft Inc., SAP AG has, by default, taken center stage.

And now its taking sides.

SAP spokesman Bill Wohl confirmed today that SAP will pen a letter to the US Department of Justice outlining its definition of the software market— one that is more closely aligned with rival Oracles than it is with the Justice Departments.

"The definition of the enterprise market [by the Justice Department] as being a handful of companies was not correct," said Wohl, in New Town Square, Penn. "We see the market just like Oracle sees the market, as much broader than a limited peer group."

German software giant SAP is in a sense the unofficial third party in the Department of Justices suit against Oracle, as the Justice Department seeks to block Oracles $9.4 billion hostile bid of PeopleSoft.

In its suit filed against Oracle in a San Francisco court earlier this month, the Justice Department defined three companies that compete for deals at the enterprise level: SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft. Hewitt Pate, the assistant attorney general in charge of the case, said that a combination of Oracle and PeopleSoft would harm the business applications software industry through less competition, less innovation and higher prices.

While PeopleSofts intentions are clear— its been fending off Oracles consolidation attempts for the past nine months— SAP has remained mum on the deal until late last week when SAP chairman and CEO Henning Kagermann made public the companys broader definition of the market that backs up Oracles stance.

Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., contends that its competitors in big-company deals are far greater than just itself, PeopleSoft and SAP. It has mentioned the likes of mid-market Enterprise Resource Planning software makers Lawson Software Inc., GEAC and Baan as competitors, and pointed to Microsoft Corp as mounting— and serious— competition at the enterprise level.

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SAP, of Walldorf, Germany, is taking it a step further, saying there are hundreds, if not thousands of competitors at all levels of the market: enterprise, small and midsized.

In investigating Oracles attempted takeover of PeopleSoft, the Justice Departments Pate said his staff looked at the enterprise sector only, and did not include mid-market or potential competitors.

SAPs Wohl said the company will draft the letter to the Justice Department "sooner than later."