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ORACLE BEA - Trade Threats; BEA Wants $21 a Share

Oracle, meanwhile, has already threatened to withdraw its $6.66 billion cash offer for BEA

(October 29, 2007) - After playing coy for a couple of weeks BEA came out Thursday and told Oracle what its price is: a probably unrealistic $21 a share, a number close to $8.2 billion rounding up, roughly $1.6 billion more than Oracle has offered.

Oracle, meanwhile, has already threatened to withdraw its $6.66 billion cash offer for BEA.

After being rejected by the BEA board a second time as undervalued, Oracle Tuesday morning told BEA's board it wasn't interested in a "long, drawn-out" acquisition struggle, that $17 a share is as good as it's gonna get, that there's no white knight on the horizon and that it has until 5pm Pacific time Sunday evening to come to terms or else.

Naturally, Oracle made its threat public to scare the wits out of BEA shareholders. Oracle proposed that the stockholders vote on the offer.

Now imagine for a moment the predatory, all-devouring Oracle walking away from a hostile acquisition offer that it put in train.

Yeah, right, BEA has apparently been having the same problem imagining that happening and so Tuesday afternoon its board rejected Oracle's $17-a share bid for the third time, holding out for a sweetener.

The rejection letter that BEA sent Oracle president Charles Phillips repeated BEA's position that it "is worth significantly more than $17 to Oracle, to others, and most importantly to BEA shareholders" and closed with the thought that it still can be had for the right price. Now we know what that price is and - returning threat for threat - BEA suggested it will put itself up for auction.

It said, "Over the last several weeks, Oracle has repeatedly asked us for the price at which we would be willing to begin negotiations, and the board has concluded, after consultation with its financial adviser Goldman Sachs, that it is prepared to authorize negotiations with third parties, including Oracle, at a price of $21 per share."

The ball is now back in Oracle's court and the clock is ticking. The smart money expects it to call BEA's bluff.

It told BEA late Thursday in a publicized letter that its $21 counterproposal is "impossibly high for Oracle or any other potential acquirer" and that Oracle would "move on and and evaluate other potential acquisitions" if BEA didn't kowtow to its $17 bid by Sunday evening.

"Our proposal of $17 per share is the only offer," Oracle told BEA. "Apparently no other companies think that BEA is worth $17 per share, let alone $21 per share."

Oracle described $21 as an 80% premium to BEA's price before Carl Icahn arrived on the scene and a multiple of nearly 11 times BEA's last 12 months reported maintenance revenues. "Nobody," it said huffily, "would seriously consider paying that kind of multiple for a software company with shrinking new license sales."

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