Europe objects to Oracle, PeopleSoft deal

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SAN FRANCISCO - Oracle Corp. said it has received a statement of objections from the European Commission related to its proposed $9.4 billion bid to acquire rival PeopleSoft Inc.


In a statement, Oracle said it was pleased to know what the commission's objections were and added it would address them. Peoplesoft said the EC's action supported its claims the transaction would likely be prohibited by law.

"We are pleased to have clarity on what the Commission's key issues are and we will address these issues through our written right of reply and in our hearing testimony," Oracle spokesman Jim Finn said in a statement.

"The process is ongoing and we are confident that the Commission will see how competitive this business truly is," he said.


Oracle declined to comment further, except to say the EC may go public with its statement of objections next week. The U.S. Department of Justice has sued to block the takeover and trial in that case is set for June 7.

The EC's issuance of its statement of objections supports PeopleSoft's claims that the transaction is likely to be prohibited under antitrust law, PeopleSoft said in its own statement.

"The EC action is consistent with the case filed by the United States Department of Justice and seven states challenging this transaction," PeopleSoft said. "The world's two leading antitrust enforcement agencies have now asserted that the combination of these two companies is anticompetitive."


The EC's final decision on the matter is expected by May 11, according to PeopleSoft.

The Justice Department claims that it would be anti-competitive to combine PeopleSoft and Oracle -- the No. 2 and No. 3 sellers of software aimed at large business customers looking to manage finances, human resources and sales. Germany's SAP AG is the leading business applications provider.

Oracle argues that the market is larger than that, with many smaller companies providing different types of software, and that Microsoft Corp. is pushing into the market.

PeopleSoft, whose chief executive - Craig Conway - is a former Oracle executive, has rejected three offers from Oracle, including the latest one for $26 a share, saying it undervalues the company. The final offer represents a 32 percent premium over PeopleSoft's closing price of $19.68 on the Nasdaq.

® Reuters