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SAP launches bid for Retek customers

German company is trying to steal away customers rival Oracle captured in its winning bid for software maker Retek.

SAP is trying to steal away customers that rival Oracle captured in its winning bid for software maker Retek.

On Wednesday, the German company introduced a so-called "safe passage" plan designed to encourage Retek customers to move onto SAP's business applications. The program mirrors similar efforts launched during the past year in hopes of snatching customers from Oracle as the database giant works to integrate companies it has acquired, specifically PeopleSoft.

In order to land Retek, Oracle launched a bidding war against SAP, which had first announced plans to buy the company in February 2005. The final value of the acquisition totaled roughly $650 million for Oracle.

SAP said the safe-passage initiative will consist of providing Retek customers with a road map for their future IT investments--in particular, how to migrate their retail systems onto its own enterprise applications. The program offers significant discounts on projects aimed at moving to SAP software from Retek's products, in addition to providing consulting services and associated training courses.

Jim McMurray, SAP's senior vice president of retail, said Oracle's desire to land Retek forced it to pay too much for the vendor, even though he concedes that Retek would have been a good fit for SAP. He also believes Oracle will struggle to bring Retek's applications to bear on its own products as it works to pull together technologies from all the companies it has acquired.

"After SAP's tender for Retek, a lot of companies came to us and asked what we could do to help them get their infrastructure into shape," McMurray said. "People liked Retek's technologies, but they've had problems making it work with other applications, so we think there's still an opportunity for us here."

McMurray said SAP will train Retek customers on how they might benefit from SAP tools and technologies, and demonstrate the advantages of his company's integrated software strategy.

"It's all about the concept of making sure that customers who are dealing with uncertainty around Oracle and Retek's product (plans) know that SAP has the technology and services to help them today," he said. "We're not going to force them to go through an uncertain migration path with a lot of unknowns like our rivals."

Some industry watchers are predicting that SAP will cash in during the period of uncertainty surrounding Oracle's acquisitions integration efforts. According to a recent research report published by J.P. Morgan Securities, SAP will likely continue to siphon away some of Oracle business software customers at least through the end of this year.

Oracle representatives declined to comment on SAP's safe-passage initiative.

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