DoJ questions Oracle’s Phase Forward buy

By : |May 29, 2010 0

WASHINGTON, USA: The U.S. government has asked for more information on Oracle Corp’s $685 million purchase of rival specialty software maker Phase Forward Inc, extending an antitrust review to give the deal closer scrutiny.

Phase Forward, the top maker of programs that help drugmakers run clinical trials, said in a regulatory filing on Friday the U.S. Department of Justice asked for additional information as it reviews the acquisition to see it hurts competition in the software market.

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined to comment on the government’s request. Officials with Phase Forward could not immediately be reached to elaborate on the disclosure, which was made in an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Had the government not made the request, it would have been obliged to approve the deal within 30 days of Oracle and Phase Forward’s first filing for anti-trust approval. The companies have not said when they filed.

Buying Phase Forward would help billionaire Larry Ellison’s Oracle expand its portfolio of programs that help drugmakers boost the efficiency at a time when they are anxious to slash costs.

Drug companies are looking to offset revenue declines, as many profitable brand-name drugs will soon face competition from low-cost generics.

Phase Forward is the top producer of programs for managing clinical trials, ahead of Medidata Solutions Inc and Oracle.

Healthcare is one of several key areas where Oracle has focused on building a portfolio of software specific to an industry’s needs.

It said in March it would buy another maker of software for pharmaceutical companies – privately held Relsys International Inc, whose programs help monitor product safety. Neither company disclosed the value of that deal.

Phase Forward shares fell about 1.4 percent in light after-hours trading, dropping to $16.60 from their Nasdaq close of $16.83. Oracle agreed to pay $17 per share in cash for the company. Oracle shares were unchanged at $22.57.

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