ANAHEIM -Focused on the job of making a friendly merger successful, PeopleSoft executives and customers insist they aren’t preoccupied with the looming question of whether Oracle will be victorious in its hostile takeover bid.
three months ago, it was a very different story.
Today, Pete Smith, regional vice-president PeopleSoft Canada, dismisses the subject as a distraction, saying the possibility of Oracle being successful in its hostile takeover is something that doesn’t keep him or anyone else at the company awake at night.
“”It’s now a legal process. It’s so far off our radar scope,”” said Smith at an interview during the company’s annual Connect end user conference here.
Instead, Smith says the company is focused on making the merger with J.D.Edwards as smooth as possible and delivering an integrated set of the two company’s product lines.
“”This wasn’t a company that needed saving, but we’ve signed on for a pretty huge journey.””
What Smith will conceed is that immediately after June 6, when Oracle announced its intentions, just about every meeting he took with customers started with a question about the possibility of Larry Ellison’s quest for PeopleSoft. “”They were concerned about what it would mean. Today, there might just be a question at the door at the end of the meeting,”” said Smith.
Smith says the Canadian Competition Bureau has been looking into how a possible takeover could affect PeopleSoft users in this country.
“”I am aware that they are calling our customers. At least a dozen have indicated they have been called and that the questions are very in-depth and the person asking the questions are clearly knowledgeable about the issues. Our clients are telling them what they think the impact on the business and the industry would be,”” Smith said.
For Gilles Champagne, manager of employee services, human resources with the City of Calgary, the news that Oracle was looking to takeover PeopleSoft came at a critical time for his department. The city already had millions invested in PeopleSoft applications and was rolling out an HR upgrade, trying to squeeze costs out of the system and better manage the city’s 12,000 employees.
“”The initial comments about whether (Oracle) they would buy it and shut it down certainly got people’s attention,”” said Champagne, noting city officials began asking whether their investment in software upgrades was at risk, since the PeopleSoft system is considered the “”backbone”” of the city’s systems. “”Ultimately, it is also public funds.””
Champagne then set out over the next few weeks to look at what analysts and others were saying about the potential impact.
“”We spoke to Gartner and took a good look at it. It took a couple of weeks before we arrived at a certain comfort level but ultimately we decided it was an acceptable risk. We weighed everything and decided to move cautiously.””
To shore up strength on its end, Smith says PeopleSoft is in the midst of trying to buy back $350 million of its own stock.
“”We think the best investment of cash in the bank is to buy back our own stock.””
Oracle’s $7.5 billion hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft ends Sept. 19 but analysts expect the company will extend its bid.
Today PeopleSoft chief technology officer Rick Bergquist and Ram Gupta, executive vice-president of products and technology, outlined where customers can see J.D.Edwards products being woven into the PeopleSoft set of tools in the next 90 days. Among those will be the JDE real estate management tool and PeopleSoft supplier relationship management, which will be made available for all customers in the next 90 days. The real estate tool is one PeopleSoft account executives are expected to get some serious interest in from customers.
“”We think there is some low-hanging fruit there,”” said Smith.