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Oracle Waiting On PeopleSoft Court Decision

President Phillips, speaking at OracleWorld, says Oracle isn't sure of its next steps in its PeopleSoft takeover effort.

Oracle president Charles Phillips said Monday that the company can't say for sure if it will try to replace PeopleSoft Inc.'s board of directors as the next move in its attempt to take over the application vendor.

"There's no playbook we can look to," Phillips said in a question-and-answer session following an address to some of the 26,000 attendees at the OracleWorld conference in San Francisco on Monday morning.

Oracle will rely on the Delaware Chancery Court to determine whether the poison-pill anti-takeover measure enacted by PeopleSoft's board should remain in place or be removed, now that Oracle has been tendered a 61% share of PeopleSoft's outstanding stock, Phillips said. "We haven't made any decisions other than to see what happens next in Delaware Court," he said.

Asked if Oracle's reputation had suffered as a result of the hostile takeover, Phillips answered no. As Oracle has made its intentions plain over the 18-month period, he said, even PeopleSoft customers have reduced their opposition to the idea of Oracle ownership. "We never call it hostile. We call it unsolicited," Phillips said.

Phillips likened the present PeopleSoft board and management to tenants in a building that don't want the premises to be sold to a new owner. "The people who own the house ought to be able to sell the house if they want to, regardless of what renters who happen to be there think. We're not hostile to the owners," he said.

Phillips predicted that programmers now working on new features for PeopleSoft applications wouldn't be cut, even though Oracle has no interest in generating future releases of PeopleSoft applications. They'll be welcomed into work on Oracle projects, and some of their best ideas that have appeared in PeopleSoft applications are likely to surface in future Oracle products, he said.

Oracle will offer both PeopleSoft and Oracle "product-line tracks" if the takeover succeeds, Phillips said, but "Oracle products will be on the faster track. We're not trying to merge two products into one." Oracle has said it may bring out one more version of PeopleSoft applications, currently in advanced development, before freezing the applications for maintenance only.

In his OracleWorld opening-day address, Phillips named Dell, Intel, Novell, and Red Hat as its partners in a plan to produce a server "Architecture of the Future," aimed at midsize and small businesses, that will utilize Linux software, Intel hardware, and grid-computing technology.

Following Phillips to the stage was Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who said Oracle and HP will launch an initiative to work with their resellers to more effectively offer Oracle E-Business Suite Special Edition, a package of Oracle 11i applications designed for ease of installation and management. She said HP and Oracle already share 88,000 customers worldwide.

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