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Applications & OS News

Oracle Launches $6.6 Billion BEA Takeover Bid

Edward F. Moltzen
said it was launching

"This proposal is the culmination of repeated conversations with BEA's management over the last several years. We look forward to completing a friendly transaction as soon as possible," Oracle President Charles Phillips said in a statement.

Oracle said it sent a letter to BEA with the $17-per-share offer, marking a 25 percent premium over BEA's Thursday closing stock price of $13.62.

A BEA spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Oracle's move would continue its aggressive takeover of software companies over the past several years, including buyouts of Peoplesoft and Siebel. Phillips, in his statement, said Oracle would "protect the investment customers have made in BEA's products by supporting those customers and products for years to come."

Just a day earlier, corporate raider Carl Icahn filed papers with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, reporting an ownership stake of more than 51 million shares of BEA, or 13.22 percent of the company. It was unclear whether Oracle's attempt would prompt any response from Icahn.

The news prompted shares of BEA to skyrocket by more than 30 percent in pre-market trading, to $17.85.

BEA, a $1.2 billion company, makes WebLogic -- a suite of middleware products that includes a commerce server and personalization server. Its technology runs on several different platforms, including Oracle's. The company has been in the midst of trying to integrate its service-oriented architecture technology with Web 2.0; at the same time, its stock has remained mired in a trading range of between $10.50 per share and $16.77 per share over the past year.

BEA has also been grappling with stock option-backdating issues, and earlier this week said it would take a charge of $425 million to clear the issue up -- an increase from an earlier projection that it would take a charge of between $340 million and $390 million.

Oracle's takeover attempt continues a week of consolidation news in the software industry. Earlier this week SAP announced it would buy Business Objects in a friendly $6.8 billion deal.

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