Ahead of today's rulings from European competition regulators, the PeopleSoft/Oracle saga has surged back into life following PeopleSoft's revelation that it bolstered customer guarantees.
PeopleSoft revealed it had extended the qualifying periods that apply to its Customer Assurance Programme, taking potential liability for the guarantees to $800m (£476m).
The programme was launched earlier this year to reassure PeopleSoft users over the viability of its software.
Under the programme, customers would be entitled to rebates worth up to five times their licence fees if the company was acquired and support for its products withdrawn.
The revelation has caused consternation among both Oracle and PeopleSoft customers, who have mounted legal challenges to the programme.
"PeopleSoft's latest action is management entrenchment at its worst," said Oracle spokesman Jim Finn.
"These modifications to PeopleSoft's so-called Customer Assurance Programme are not about protecting customers. Instead, they reflect PeopleSoft's blatant disregard for shareholder value and choice."
But PeopleSoft argued that the programme gave customers guarantees that any firm buying PeopleSoft would continue to support and develop its software.
"It only becomes an issue if a company buying PeopleSoft decides not to support our customers in the way we would have. This is good for the customers," said Steve Swasey, a spokesman for PeopleSoft.
Oracle has generated numerous headlines since launching its audacious bid for rival PeopleSoft. But it may now be looking for a face-saving way out.
It is possible that antitrust regulators such as the EU may provide the firm with such an escape by blocking the deal. Alternatively, Oracle has told US courts that it may be forced by the Customer Assurance Programme to withdraw its bid.
Last month, Oracle filed its proposals for acquiring PeopleSoft with European regulators. A preliminary decision is due today.
"We have always said that the Oracle bid would face severe antitrust issues," said Swasey.
Oracle were approached but declined to comment for this article.
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