July 9, 2003 5:55 PM PDT

Ellison: We're going to do this deal

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REDWOOD SHORES, Calif.--CEO Larry Ellison on Wednesday said Oracle was willing to continue its campaign to buy PeopleSoft, even if it took another year to carry the day.

Speaking here at company headquarters for a meeting with financial analysts, Ellison repeated his confidence in Oracle's ability to buy the rival business software maker in the face of an ongoing antitrust investigation and further litigation.

"I think we will prevail," he said during the course of an unscripted 45-minute presentation.

Last month, Oracle launched a hostile bid for PeopleSoft, which had recently announced a merger with J.D. Edwards--a move that could have ousted Oracle from its No. 2 global software spot. The proposed takeover is now worth about $6.3 billion, after Oracle raised its offer to PeopleSoft investors to $19.50 per share.

Questioned by analysts, Ellison expressed optimism that the U.S. Justice Department, which is conducting a probe into possible antitrust issues in the bid, would give Oracle the green light to put the deal before PeopleSoft's shareholders. At that point, Oracle would then need to successfully win its lawsuit to remove a "poison pill" provision adopted by the targeted company's board of directors.

However, Ellison cautioned that if Oracle lost that lawsuit, the company is willing to wait as long as a year to attempt to replace PeopleSoft's board with a group of friendlier directors when they come up for re-election.

Meanwhile, Ellison sought to dispel fears that Oracle would not support PeopleSoft products in the aftermath of an acquisition.

"I can't just glue a little piece of their stuff onto our stuff. It's technically impossible. I don't know how to do that," he said, adding that Oracle was "committed" to keeping PeopleSoft's customers happy.

"It's utterly ridiculous to offend the customers we spent $6.3 billion to acquire," Ellison said, accusing PeopleSoft management of scare tactics.

He specifically pointed a finger of blame at PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway for stoking customer fears, continuing the war of words the battling chief executives have waged in the press.

Other executives appeared to be taking a more cautious approach to the deal.

"We are committed to this transaction," said Chuck Phillips, an Oracle executive vice president who said earlier he would reevaluate the bid if the merger between PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards succeeds. "This is not a make or break for our applications business."

Reuters contributed to this report.

 

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