Oracle extends PeopleSoft bid to 2004

The software maker extends until year-end its deadline for tendering shares in its $7.25 billion hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft.

Oracle has extended until year-end its deadline for tendering shares in its $7.25 billion hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft.

Oracle said Friday that it had pushed its tender offer deadline to midnight Dec. 31. The cutoff was originally slated for Oct. 17. The extension came after an Oracle executive told a group of investors Thursday that a ruling from U.S. antitrust regulators on the deal has been delayed about a month. Oracle now expects a Justice Department decision in late November or December.

"We are as committed today as we were when we first announced our offer in June, and therefore extend our bid for PeopleSoft," said Oracle spokesman Jim Finn.

Yet Oracle may need to offer more than just additional time to persuade PeopleSoft shareholders to tender their shares. PeopleSoft's stock closed at $20.55 Friday, climbing above Oracle's $19.50 per share bid. PeopleSoft's shares rose on news this week that the company expects to beat third-quarter earnings estimates .

The December deadline is the fifth extension Oracle has announced since it launched its surprise bid for PeopleSoft in early June. But it is not uncommon to see such deadlines pushed back in a hostile bid, as acquiring companies try to collect more than 50 percent of outstanding shares in the target company, proxy solicitors said.

As of Friday, PeopleSoft shareholders had tendered a total of 24.8 million shares, or about 7 percent of total shares outstanding, Oracle said.

PeopleSoft spokesman Steve Swasey said the number of shares tendered has steadily declined over the past few months. "Gary Coleman got more votes for governor," he said, referring to this week's recall election in California.

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    Alorie Gilbert
    writes about software, spy chips and the high-tech workplace.
     

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