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Craig Conway, the ex-boss of PeopleSoft, admitted yesterday that he may have over-reacted to the attempted takeover of his firm by Oracle.

He acknowledged that he described Oracle as a “sociopathic company” but denied describing Oracle’s boss Larry Ellison as a sociopath. He told a court in Delaware that he believed the bid was an attempt to lure PeopleSoft customers away rather than a real bid for the company. Oracle has taken PeopleSoft to court to try and remove “poison pill” arrangements the firm has put in place to try and prevent the takeover.

Conway, an ex-Oracle employee, described Ellison as Genghis Khan, according to AP, but said his former boss used to welcome the comparison.

Internal Oracle emails seem to support the claim that Oracle was using the bid to undermine PeopleSoft customers. An email from Oracle marketing director Mark Jarvis seen by news.com said: “use this news in order to create FUD with prospects and customers alike” - FUD is fear, uncertainty and doubt. Another email, after the bid had been made public, said Oracle had “successfully spread enough FUD along with our own capabilities to have a good average shot at winning”.

Conway was accused of making misleading comments to analysts about the deal. He accepted he could have been more guarded in his comments but denied deliberately lying.

A PeopleSoft board member earlier suggested to the court that the firm was more receptive to a possible take-over if the price was right. Oracle is currently offering $7.7bn for the firm.

The PeopleSoft board of directors “terminated” Conway’s employment due to a loss in confidence in his ability to run the firm. Company founder Dave Duffield was appointed CEO in his place.

Meanwhile European Competition Commissioner Mario Monti announced that his investigation into the merger would restart with the intention of coming to a decision by the time he stands down at the end of this month. The Commission now hopes to report by 9 November, according to sources quoted by Reuters. The US Department of Justice is no longer opposed to the merger - it originally took court action on concerns that the takeover would leave just two providers of enterprise software. After losing the initial case the DOJ has decided not to appeal. ®

Related stories

Oracle v. Peoplesoft: Roundup
Oracle asks court to remove PeopleSoft poison pills
Peoplesoft sacks Craig Conway
Oracle v. Peoplesoft: the joke is on...

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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