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SAP passes on BEA, focuses on Business Objects

Despite archrival Oracle making a play to acquire BEA Systems, German software maker says it's focusing on its equally weighty Business Objects merger.

SAP has no plans to follow Oracle down the megamerger path.

That, apparently, is the sentiment of Henning Kagermann, SAP's chief executive, who played down the prospect that the German enterprise software maker would make a bid for middleware maker BEA Systems, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The lithe Kagermann wants to stay focused on acquisitions to push SAP into new markets, such as its mega billion-dollar acquisition of Business Objects, whereas a bid for BEA would only bulk up its presence in the middleware market. He indicated that SAP archrival Oracle can make its play for BEA, undisturbed.

Kagermann apparently is not blowing after-dinner smoke. He has not approached SAP's supervisory board about clearing the table for yet another megadeal, a source told CNET News.com.

Meanwhile, back at the BEA ranch, Oracle President Charles Phillips kicked up some dust when he complained of BEA canceling a meeting set for last Friday, which was allegedly designed to lead to a deal announcement for Monday. BEA rejected Oracle's $17-a-share cash offer as too low.

One BEA source noted that the middleware maker has publicly refuted Phillips' characterization of a planned "meeting," but that despite the craziness of Oracle's claims, BEA would take a look at any other bids its rival passes its way. After all, BEA is a publicly traded company, so it has an obligation to deliver the best bang for the buck to its shareholders.

Talk of rival bids other than from SAP have also surfaced, such as ones from IBM and Hewlett-Packard. But IBM has its own middleware deal with WebSphere that rivals BEA's WebLogic. And HP took a hit on its acquisition of Bluestone Software for $467 million in 2000. Two years later, it exited the middleware market, with plans to partner with BEA and Microsoft.

So with Oracle's offer still standing at $17 a share in cash for BEA, a watchful eye is on the horizon for a bigger offer from Oracle--or a rival bid.