With its PeopleSoft acquisition nearing completion, Oracle has pegged 18 January as the launch date for its newly enlarged company, with a webcast planned for customers, partners and press.

Oracle's top executives will lay out their vision for the combined company during the online event, which has been warmly titled "Oracle-PeopleSoft - Better Together." Customers will be able to submit questions online. The webcast will be followed by a series of regional events.

Oracle announced last week that enough PeopleSoft stock had been tendered to give it control of the company, although the deal is still not officially complete. Oracle fell short of the 90 percent of shares that it needed to seal the deal quickly, and it announced a subsequent deadline for tendering shares, which expires tonight.

If Oracle has secured the 90 percent of shares by this deadline it will close the transaction swiftly, it said. If it fails, Oracle has the option to extend the offer one more time, according to an Oracle spokesman, although he said Oracle is confident that it will achieve its target.

If 90 percent of the stock is not tendered, the deal would require a vote of PeopleSoft shareholders. Oracle already holds a majority, but the vote could delay the merger's completion by four to six weeks, the company has said.

Meanwhile Oracle is forging ahead. It plans to notify staff by 14 January about who will be laid off in the merger, according to updated information on its Web site. Oracle has already been displacing PeopleSoft executives, including Co-president and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Parker and Co-president Phillip Wilmington, according to a 29 December regulatory filing. They were replaced by Oracle's Charles Phillips and Safra Catz.

Oracle has also replaced two of its own top managers as part of the merger effort, including Ron Wohl, executive vice president of applications development, according to a report in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal. John Wookey, Oracle senior vice president for applications development, will take charge of Oracle's applications business and the efforts to integrate PeopleSoft's product line, according to the Journal, which cited unnamed sources. Oracle declined to comment on what it referred to as "rumors."

Oracle also reiterated its plans to release new versions of PeopleSoft's main product lines and, in the longer term, to develop a successor product suite that merges what it considers the best of the two companies' products. "The successor product will evolve over time and incorporate a modern standards-based architecture, including the use of Java Web services in a services-oriented architecture," Oracle said on its website.