Oracle's Phillips: PeopleSoft assault could last till November

Oracle’s hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft could drag on past November if the company’s vice president Chuck Phillips is correct about how long it will take for the US Justice Department to complete its anti-trust review of the deal.

Phillips said that Oracle is still compiling information which the Justice Department has requested as part of its investigation.The department will have 30 days to review the information once it is submitted. "Our best guess is that it will all conclude by the fall sometime - in November or the late November time frame," Phillips said. "But it could take longer depending on how much more information we have to come up with."

He declined to speculate on whether Oracle would raise its bid price to shareholders. "From conversations with investors, we've got overwhelming feedback that it's a fair price, but the problem right now, given the antitrust review, is that they can't really tender their shares,'' he said.

If Phillips is correct in his assessment Oracle will have to extend its deadline to PeopleSoft shareholders which currently falls on 19th September. But Phillips said that Oracle was ready to play a long game. "Acquiring PeopleSoft was never expected to be an easy task," he said. "We have the stamina and resources, and it's only a small amount of people focused on it."

But he also opened up the possibility that the deal will not close. "We will continue to gain market share and close the gap one way or another,” he said. “PeopleSoft would have taken a nice step forward in making that happen more quickly.

"It's critical to have many customers; it's important in an industry that has matured some. These customers are more valuable to us than they are to an average company in the application software business because we have a broad product line and we can sell them multiple things,'' Phillips said. "We were already getting PeopleSoft customers switching over, and that's one of the reasons PeopleSoft sought out J.D. Edwards. They were getting squeezed.''

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