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PeopleSoft seeks to reassure customers

The software maker sends a letter to customers, asking them to stick with the company as it fights a "calculated approach to disrupt our business."

PeopleSoft took its buyout battle to customers Monday, sending clients a letter seeking their support in fighting a proposed takeover by Oracle.

In a letter sent to all customers and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway again characterized Oracle's bid as a "predatory" maneuver.

"In the end, PeopleSoft was the target of a hostile bid exactly because we have stronger products, exactly because we are so well positioned," he wrote. "The calculated approach to disrupt our business assumed a dramatic slowdown in customer purchases. Don't let it happen. Show your support for PeopleSoft by moving ahead with your planned purchases of PeopleSoft products this month. Show your support and let us move forward together--this month, this year, and for years to come."

Oracle shocked the software industry earlier this month when it made an unsolicited $5.1 billion takeover bid for PeopleSoft just days after PeopleSoft itself had announced plans to acquire J.D. Edwards for $1.7 billion. PeopleSoft and Oracle compete in the market for broad-based business applications, an area where Oracle has had little success leveraging its commanding lead in database software.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has said the buyout would make Oracle more profitable and competitive. But PeopleSoft executives have said Oracle's $16-a-share offer--below PeopleSoft's current trading price--is intended mainly to spread doubt in the software market and hurt PeopleSoft's business.

PeopleSoft's board of directors formally rejected the offer last week. PeopleSoft executives have said they will go through with the J.D. Edwards bid, sweetening the deal with an infusion of cash.

"PeopleSoft will confidently move ahead with the J.D. Edwards acquisition to create significantly higher shareholder value," Conway said in the letter to customers. "We will continue as a profitable, financially stable company. And we will always be a company of integrity because that is who we are."