BEA vows to fight off suitors

But the company, which appeared on an Oracle takeover list, acknowledges that it can't stop someone from trying.

2 min read
Software provider BEA Systems said it has no control over whether it becomes the target of a hostile takeover, following an indication from Oracle that BEA was one of its takeover options.

In June, during its court battle with U.S. regulators over its bid to acquire software maker PeopleSoft, Oracle revealed that it had a list of other acquisition candidates that included BEA, as well as Lawson Software and J.D. Edwards, which was later bought by PeopleSoft.

On Friday, an executive at BEA said there's no certainty about whether Oracle was actually planning an acquisition or was just trying to spread unease among BEA's investors.

"It's hard to speculate what's going on in the minds of Oracle's leaders, but let's say that is a common tactic that they follow," Kevin Faulkner, vice president of corporate communications at BEA, said at a media briefing here.

Faulkner said the company will be improving its business to ward off any such attempt.

The company last month reorganized its top management team in response to two disappointing quarters and the flight of at least eight high-level executives, some of whom had been setting the company's technology direction.

BEA does not want to become a part of a larger entity, Faulkner said. "The management still believe that we offer a lot value to customers as a standalone player."

He added that the company does have a "poison pill" strategy in place, in case of a hostile takeover attempt. The strategy involves boosting the shares of some shareholders to reduce the bidder's percentage of ownership.

"The management strategy remains to be independent, but there are things out there that we can't control," Faulkner said. "If someone was to make a hostile offer to take control over us, we can't control...whether that will happen or not."

But there are some things that the company can control, he said: "Step No. 1 is to improve our business...Remain profitable, remain cash flow-positive, return to license revenue growth."

BEA has said its licensing revenue dropped 5 percent in the first half of the year, compared to the last half of 2003. Faulkner said licensing revenue looks positive for the second half of this year.

"There are some tactical things we're doing to improve the licensing spending performance...One of those would be the telco application server," he said. "Telcos are investing in building wireless data servers and building VoIP. We are already the platform for systems like that for DoCoMo...and Optus."

The company is also looking to promote its applications as ways of allowing companies to develop employee and customer self-service portals.

Abbie Dinham of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney. CNET News.com's Martin LaMonica contributed to this report.