It was supposed to be decided one way or another at midnight Eastern time on Friday. Oracle's final final bid for rival PeopleSoft - $24 per share - came to a close, and finally it was going to be the shareholders that made the decision that the two companies' boards have been unable to.
And then it happened - Oracle announced that it had received tenders for 60 percent of Oracle's shares. The shareholders had spoken and a majority wanted the deal. Oracle put out a press release. But far from being over, the PeopleSoft board put out its own response, refusing to accept Oracle's bid.
It could hardly dismiss its own shareholders' wishes so the issue, it claims, it that the $24 per share isn't enough. "Oracle's latest offer is inadequate and the company is worth substantially more than the $24 per share," it claimed. "The Board... will not sell the company for less than it is really worth."
The 17-month battle for the company, that has seen PeopleSoft's CEO leave, a court battle with the US government and endless unpleasantries exchanged between the two companies has meant that the two boards will never be able to come to an agreement. There is simply too much rancour.
But the shareholders have voted and even the PeopleSoft board must see that the writing is on the wall. It is claiming it wants to negotiate a better price but the truth is it cannot back down and any such talks would be bitter and probably doomed. A wise PeopleSoft board member will be checking their severance clauses in great detail.
If it does try to bluff it out, hiding behind the company's anti-takeover measures, and the board doesn't fracture as each member looks after number one, it could take Oracle until the PeopleSoft's annual general meeting next year to get hold of the company.
Oracle is due in court next week to hear whether a judge will rule out PeopleSoft's anti-takeover "poison pill". That could go either way. It it fails, Oracle will ask the majority of shareholders that tendered its shares to vote out the current PeopleSoft board. Whether that would prove successful, only time will tell. It would certainly set the stage for yet another round of vicious fighting.
However the way things look as of 22 November, Oracle's winning streak is still good and it's only a matter of time and determination before it gets its hands on its rival. You do have to ask though whether after such a bitter battle that a takeover and merger wouldn't be more trouble than it's worth.
Oh, Oracle has extended its offer until 31 December.
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