Oracle-PeopleSoft Battle Widens

The case spills over into the political arena with word that Oracle lobbyists have met with Senate Judiciary Committee staff members to discuss the case.



Representatives of Oracle Corp. and PeopleSoft Inc. this week are pleading their respective cases before the chief of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, which is considering Oracle's hostile takeover of PeopleSoft. At the same time, the case is spilling over into the political arena with word that Oracle lobbyists have met with Senate Judiciary Committee staff members to discuss the case.

The Washington Post reported that former senator Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) and two lobbyists asked staff members to contact the Justice Department about the matter. However, one staff member told the newspaper that they had no plans to discuss the matter with the Antitrust Division before Assistant Attorney General Hewitt Pate rules on the takeover bid.

Pate is scheduled to rule on the matter by Tuesday. His staff has recommended that Oracle's attempt be dismissed. While antitrust division chiefs rarely overrule their staffs, the high-profile nature of the case, along with its complexity, have placed an intense spotlight on the proceedings. Oracle has indicated it is likely to appeal any decision that goes against it.

Congressional staff members met last June with representatives of both Oracle and PeopleSoft.

The case has spread beyond the details of antitrust and politics to business philosophy. The Post noted that the Wall Street Journal's editorial page has come out in favor or the Oracle bid. The Journal argued that the decision on the takeover should be left to PeopleSoft's stockholders.

The European Union, too, is examining the takeover bid from the perspective of European antitrust regulations. The EU Competition Directorate has barely begun to review the takeover bid, and its decision is likely to drag out for weeks or months.

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