Legal ruling delayed in Oracle takeover bid

A crucial legal ruling in Oracle’s takeover bid for rival software giant Peoplesoft has been delayed after a judge said he needs to hear further evidence.

Oracle has the backing of Peoplesoft shareholders, but the firm’s board says the US$9.2bn (£4.9bn) bid undervalues the company. Oracle is mounting a legal challenge in a Delaware court to Peoplesoft’s moves to thwart the takeover.

About 61 per cent of Peoplesoft shareholders have accepted Oracle’s offer of US$24 (£13)a share. But Peoplesoft has said it believed most shareholders – including those who tendered their stock – believed the company was worth more than the Oracle offer.

The court case centres on a so-called ‘poison pill’ defence open to the Peoplesoft board to dissuade a potential hostile takeover.

Oracle wants the judge to reject the authority the board has to increase the number of shares in issue and, in the event of a takeover, introduce a costly rebate scheme.

The court is to hear additional testimonies on 13 and 14 December.

Insiders say Oracle’s 17-month battle to acquire the company could end up being decided at Peoplesoft’s annual general meeting in March next year. So far, Peoplesoft has turned down six offers from its rival.

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