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Big-ticket acquisition layover for Oracle

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Oracle's chief executive has ruled out any more major acquisitions for the next year, as he tries to grow the database and application giant's annual revenue to $30bn.

Larry Ellison told OracleWorld that the break would provide time to assemble the pieces of various companies' technologies and business Oracle has acquired during the last year's $18bn shopping spree, which started with PeopleSoft.

This attempt to assemble an integration portfolio could, for example, see a downplaying of recently acquired Siebel Systems' Project Nexus for Oracle's Project Fusion. Nexus was designed to make Siebel's software more interoperable.

Ellison believes he can more than double Oracle's long-term revenue while maintaining a 40 per cent operating margin through the acquisition strategy. "In order to grow at this pace, there'll have to be a couple more acquisitions along the way," Ellison said.

Ellison was speaking during a year that has seen Oracle snap up companies at an unprecedented pace. Since PeopleSoft, Oracle has bought companies spanning niche and specialized technologies, vertical sector expertise and business software.

His comments appear to rule our any more big-ticket deals, like another PeopleSoft or a Siebel - Oracle's two biggest ever purchases. It does not, though, seem to rule out the kinds of smaller deals that have come to dominate this year.

As such, Ellison ruled out acquisition of fellow enterprise infrastructure software vendor BEA Systems, a deal Ellison himself once floated as a possibility. Commenting on BEA, Ellison said: "BEA was very high on our list, but they are less interesting to us than they use to be."

Instead, the focus seems to be on business applications and a determination to surpass enterprise resource planning (ERP) giant SAP as the world's largest maker of business applications. That competition saw Oracle scuffle with SAP for ownership of retail software specialist Retek earlier this year.

Ellison said he expects increased competition in applications, especially from hosted vendors Salesforce.com and NetSuite and from Microsoft, who recently committed itself to a hosted customer relationship management (CRM) offering. Ellison said he expects these companies to become "serious players."

Oracle's chief executive raised the prospect of going head-to-head with Salesforce.com in the wake of buying Siebel's OnDemand business. "We want to go after Salesforce.com as much as we can," Ellison said. "I am an investor in Salesforce and I want to see my investment go to zero." ®

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