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Oracle Hikes PeopleSoft Offer, Sets Deadline

Finally, there’s an end in sight.

PeopleSoft stockholders have until November 19 to tender their stock for Larry Ellison’s “best and final offer” of US$24 a share — cash — or $9.2 billion for the whole enchilada.

If they don’t, Ellison has promised to call it quits, something the multibillionaire mogul is not widely known for.

“We think the time has come for the stockholders of PeopleSoft to decide the outcome,” Oracle Chairman Jeff Henley said in a conference call today. PeopleSoft’s board has urged its shareholders to sit tight until they can review the offer themselves.

The board has fought the takeover from day one.

A Push in the Right Direction

“This turn of events could put significant pressure on PeopleSoft to respond favorably given all antitrust roadblocks have been removed and the offer price is higher,” said Merrill Lynch analyst Jason Maynard in a statement given to the media.

Oracle may have been nudged towards its newer, more generous offer by Delaware Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine, who suggested that the database giant take its best shot before he issues a decision on PeopleSoft’s “poison pill.” The pill is a customer-rebate program that could cost Oracle $2.4 billion extra if it wins its takeover bid.

But the courtroom battles could continue. Yet another trial is set to begin in January in Oakland, California. PeopleSoft has sued Oracle for $2 billion, charging that Oracle has intentionally interfered with its business.

Previous Bid Rejected

PeopleSoft in May turned up its nose at Oracle’s previous offer of $7.7 billion, or $21 a share.

The hostile takeover battle has spawned numerous lawsuits, the firing of PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway, and bad blood all around.

In February, PeopleSoft rejected an offer of $26 per share. As of this afternoon, the stock was up more than 10 percent, trading for close to $22.93, and up more than 50 percent from when Oracle first publicly set its sites on the company in June 2003.

Oracle’s shares were up 9 cents, to $12.75 at the end of trading.

Oracle also made a concession to PeopleSoft customers by announcing it would develop a next-generation of PeopleSoft products. Originally, the predator company’s plan was to support PeopleSoft products for a decade, but to cut off the line immediately.

PeopleSoft and the U.S. government had filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the takeover, but the bid was rejected by a federal judge in September. Then, on October 26, the European Commission cleared the potential deal.

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