Oracle raises ante for PeopleSoft

Larry Ellison is trying more honey ? about $1.2 billion worth ? in his bitter fight to buy PeopleSoft, the human resources software company.

Oracle Corp. this morning upped its all-cash offer for PeopleSoft Inc. by $3.50 a share, to $19.50, the latest twist in a hostile takeover bid by the database software giant from Redwood Shores, Calif.

PeopleSoft rejected Oracle's $16-a-share offer, made nearly two weeks ago, and is pressing on with its plans to buy J.D. Edwards & Co., a Colorado software and services company.

Based on Tuesday's $17.15 closing price for a share of PeopleSoft stock, today's Oracle offer is about a 14 percent premium.

"In the last few days, Oracle executives have had the opportunity to speak with holders of a majority of PeopleSoft shares," Ellison, Oracle's founder and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Many of those shareholders indicated the prices at which they would tender their shares."

Oracle's latest bid raises the value to about $6.3 billion, an amount some analysts believe is too great.

In the increasingly hostile back-and-forth, Oracle also said today it will sue PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards in a Delaware court, hoping to block PeopleSoft's acquisition of Edwards.

On June 13, PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., sued Oracle in a California state court, labeling Oracle's June 6 tender offer a sham that is designed to destroy its business and scuttle the Edwards merger.

When the markets opened this morning, PeopleSoft's shares were up, at $18.37.

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