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BEA found JBoss acquisition too expensive

Oracle and JBoss haven't commented on a BusinessWeek report that the database giant is acquiring the open-source Java application server specialist--but a rival of both companies has confirmed that JBoss has been on the market.

BEA Systems, which sells application server software of its own, decided against acquiring JBoss when presented with the opportunity, said Chief Marketing Officer Marge Breya in an interview Friday. One significant problem was the price was too high, and another was that BEA didn't like JBoss' open-source practices.

"JBoss has been shopping itself around for months," Breya said, during which BEA and JBoss representatives discussed purchase prices and other details several times.

"At first, everybody was tossing around numbers from $100 million to $200 million. Then we started hearing more," Breya said. The price tag was way too high compared to JBoss' revenue. "When you look at that multiple to revenue without a working business model, it was pretty amazing," she said.

Price wasn't the only problem BEA had. JBoss' controlling programming style was a bad match for BEA, Breya added. "It's like getting an open-source product with a closed community," she said. "We're into a more democratic approach to open source. This one seems very autocratic."

for as much as $400 million, and the Wall Street Journal reported the same figure Friday.

However, Breya said she's heard the JBoss price is "a little bit above" $400 million. She also said she's heard rumors the deal will be announced Monday. Oracle declined to comment on rumor and speculation, and JBoss didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about BEA's views.

Oracle, BEA, JBoss and IBM all sell middleware, a software layer for Java programs on a server. These so-called application servers typically run business programs such as e-commerce sites in conjunction with other servers running databases and Web site software.

Oracle, IBM and BEA all have proprietary application server packages, but the companies are adjusting as open-source options are burgeoning. IBM acquired one specialist in the market, Gluecode, in 2005, and Sun Microsystems has made its application server an open-source project called GlassFish. BEA has adopted a "blended" strategy under which its programming tools will create software for multiple application serers, including open-source Apache Tomcat and proprietary WebSphere.