It's over. After 18 months of the most heated boardroom battles in recent memory, Oracle has finally got its hands on rival PeopleSoft for a staggering $10.3 billion.
The deal, announced at 11.30am today has the approval of both boards and is expected to close in January - subject of course to the offical approval of shareholders. Since the fact that a majority of PeopleSoft shareholders publicly stated they were willing to sell their shares to Oracle was what put the final thumbscrew on PeopleSoft's directors, it seems somewhat unlikely that the deal won't go ahead as planned.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison could barely control his excitement: "Today we announced both a great quarter and the agreement to acquire PeopleSoft. This merger gives Oracle even more scale and momentum," he said. The bruising encounter has seen his opposite number at PeopleSoft pushed out of office and his company have to fight both the US government and European Union to get approval. But, finally, Oracle execs have got their hands on the prize. The company has posted several lengthy documents on its PeopleSoft-offer sub-site explaining why it believes Oracle is the best company in the world.
PeopleSoft, unsurprisingly, was a little more subdued. Stressing that the latest offer had been accepted "based upon the recommendation of the Transaction Committee of independent directors" i.e. not by themselves, the committee's chairman "A. George 'Skip' Battle" said: "After careful consideration, we believe this revised offer provides good value for PeopleSoft stockholders and represents a substantial increase in value from October. PeopleSoft is a strong and vibrant company."
The new price of $26.50 per share is the highest Oracle has offered during the long bid and re-bid process. It's most recent offer (the final, final offer, Oracle led us to believe) was $24 but it had previously offered $26 back in February.
Skip continued: "This has been a long, emotional struggle, and our employees have consistently performed well under the most challenging of circumstances. The Board salutes our employees for their outstanding dedication to PeopleSoft and is grateful to our customers who have continued to buy our products and stand by us during these uncertain times." Which reads to us like a collective hari-kari by the PeopleSoft's defeated board.
So, it is all done and PeopleSoft failed in its effort to save itself. Now perhaps it's time to ask whether such a merger is going to serve anyone but Oracle and the only other real player in a multi-billion-pound corporate software market, SAP.
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