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Tech Industry

Oracle to offer shares of Japan unit

The database-software maker is offering 5 million shares of Oracle Japan beginning January 29.

    Oracle is cutting a small piece of Asia loose to raise awareness of its products in the region.

    The Redwood Shores, California-based firm's registration for an initial public offering for its Japan division was approved today by the Japanese Securities Dealers Association.

    Oracle is offering 5 million shares of Oracle Japan January 29 through February 2. The shares represent about 7 percent of Oracle Japan's outstanding common shares. The shares are to begin public trading on February 5.

    "Relative to the size of Oracle, it's a modest offering," said Oracle chief financial officer Jeffrey Henley. "It's not significant financially, but it's an important step for our local presence in Japan."

    Oracle Japan is responsible for all of the company's Japanese operations, including software sales and distribution. Existing Oracle Japan customers include Nike Japan and Nippon Steel.

    Japan, like the rest of Asia, has been a sore spot for business software vendors the past few quarters.

    But most vendors, including Oracle, are starting to report slight climbs in sales in the Asia-Pacific region, indicating the area's economy may be on the upswing.

    Oracle, which had fiscal 1998 revenue of $7.14 billion, gets 5 percent to 6 percent of its revenue in Japan. The company, whose software helps businesses organize libraries of information, said the offering is more a symbol of its commitment to the Japanese software market than a means of raising capital. The offering has not yet been priced.

    The stock will be traded over Tokyo's Over the Counter market. The IPO is being underwritten by Nikko Securities, and supporting comanagers Morgan Stanley Japan, Nomura Securities, and Daiwa Securities.

    Bloomberg contributed to this report.