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A Kinder, Gentler Ellison?

June 25

Oracle is both softening its rough handling of PeopleSoft in its hostiile takeover bid, and at the same time signalling that its intentions are more serious than many pundits believed.

Not only did Oracle substantially raise its bid last week to $6.3 billion, but it is now indicating that it's willing to acquire both PeopleSoft and JD Edwards. This position contrasts to its earlier statement that a PeopleSoft - JD Edwards merger would "nullify" its offer.

To wit, Oracle said in an SEC filing: "The condition we have now waived was identified by the PeopleSoft board of directors as an important reason in declining to pursue discussions with us. We hope that with this waiver, PeopleSoft will finally agree to meet with us, as their shareholders are demanding."

At the same time , Oracle is running newspaper ads targeting PeopleSoft customer (and of course shareholders) that states: "Don't be a victim of scare tactics. We would not offer more than $6 billion in cash unless we really wanted you to be our customers."

Whether the purpose is to keep the industry and PeopleSoft off-balance or not, Oracle's tactics are brilliant in their obfuscation. On the other hand, we think Ellison is serious.

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