Oracle again extends PeopleSoft offer

Oracle has again extended its US$7.7 billion cash offer for PeopleSoft by two weeks. Shareholders have until Oct. 22 to tender their shares, Oracle said Thursday.

Oracle is offering $21 per share. The offer has been extended several times already and was set to expire on Oct. 8. PeopleSoft is fighting Oracle's takeover attempt: The company's board of directors has unanimously rejected each of Oracle's offers as inadequate.

The number of shares tendered by PeopleSoft shareholders has dropped significantly in the last two weeks. As of the end of Thursday, about 11.7 million shares, or 3.2 percent of PeopleSoft's outstanding shares, had been tendered into Oracle's offer, the company said. That is down from 23.8 million, or 6.5 percent of outstanding shares, two weeks ago. PeopleSoft's shares (PSFT) closed at $22.53 Thursday on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Oracle has attempted to buy PeopleSoft for 16 months and is currently battling PeopleSoft in a Delaware court in an attempt to overthrow two of PeopleSoft's takeover defenses: a "poison pill" and a customer refund program. During court proceedings over the past few days, it has become clear that PeopleSoft's board is willing to talk with Oracle if it increases its offer. Also, Oracle Director Joseph Grundfest said in court on Wednesday that no one should assume Oracle's current offer is final.

Oracle overcame a major obstacle in its quest for PeopleSoft last month when a federal judge in San Francisco rejected the U.S. Department of Justice's effort to block the takeover on antitrust grounds. The DOJ last week said it won't appeal that ruling.

The last regulatory obstacle for Oracle is winning the approval of the European Commission, where officials say a judgement will be issued by early November at the latest. Commissioner Mario Monti is expected to clear the merger, since investigations resulting in deals being blocked usually take longer to conclude than the one-month deadline that the Commission has set.

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