Oracle in Merger Talks as It Awaits PeopleSoft Outcome

Oracle Corp. (ORCL) is in merger talks with other technology companies as it awaits the outcome of its $9.2 billion hostile takeover bid for rival software maker PeopleSoft Inc. (PSFT).

"We have said all along that there are multiple acquisition possibilities. We are talking to other companies as we speak. We have multiple ideas," Oracle's Co-President Charles Phillips said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.

Phillips, who market analysts sometimes mention as a possible successor to Oracle Co-founder and Chief Executive Larry Ellison (search), declined to comment on how many companies Oracle has been in discussions with or to identify them.

Oracle and PeopleSoft are scheduled to return to Delaware Chancery Court (search) for two days of testimony on Dec. 13 and 14 to discuss PeopleSoft's anti-takeover provision, the last remaining barrier to Oracle's takeover bid.

Some 61 percent of PeopleSoft shares were tendered to Oracle by the expiration of its latest offer last month.

Oracle's intentions of possibly buying a company other than PeopleSoft became well-known this past the summer during its antitrust trial over PeopleSoft.

During the trial, Ellison testified the company was actively considering three or four other takeover targets. Ellison described one of those takeover possibilities as a "business intelligence" company and another as a software infrastructure, or middleware, provider. Middleware refers to programming that allows different kinds of software programs to work together.

In July, Ellison told analysts the company was interested in potential acquisitions but was not likely to enter into another deal while its hostile bid for PeopleSoft was pending.

To do so, Ellison said at the time, would risk "the perception we'd be taking on too much risk."

Evidence submitted during the antitrust trial identified seven still-listed companies Oracle had considered acquiring before it launched its bid for PeopleSoft in June 2003, including BEA Systems Inc. (BEAS) and Siebel Systems Inc. (SEBL).