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Oracle trial won't call PeopleSoft boss

Lawson boss testifies, previous merger talks revealed

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Oracle will not call PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway as a witness in the antitrust trial brought by the US Department of Justice.

The DoJ is concerned that a merger between Oracle and PeopleSoft would lessen competion in the market and lead to higher charges for businesses. PeopleSoft has rejected Oracle's offers.

Attorneys for Oracle had predicted they would grill Conway for up to six hours. They said his testimony would repeat statements from previous witnesses so there was now no need to call him. Oracle lawyers are expected to call their boss Larry Ellison to the stand on Wednesday.

Jay Coughlan, chief executive of Lawson Software, gave evidence for Oracle that his company was a rising rival in the enterprise market. Lawson is a retail and healthcare specialist. Coughlan admitted that his company had held merger talks with Oracle in 2002 but insisted he would not be interested in re-starting such talks if Oracle failed to take over PeopleSoft.

It also emerged last week that Oracle and PeopleSoft held more detailed merger talks a year ago than previously revealed. In 2002, a year before the hostile bid was launched, execs from both companies met to discuss the possiblity of merging their applications business. According to Oracle president Safra Catz PeopleSoft execs had no objection to the possible merger, as long as they remained in charge of the combined company. More here.

In separate news PeopleSoft is in dispute with a large customer in Australia. Builders Crane Group started rolling out PeopleSoft in 2000 but ran into serious problems. Crane has written off $28m in the value of the project and according to finance director Mark Fitzgerald told Australian IT: "we are in discussions with them regard to their delivery over the past few years". He said legal action would be considered only if talking didn't work.

More here. ®

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