Apple?s preparations to do battle with hostile predator Larry Ellison were stepped up on Thursday when it emerged that the company has retained investment bank Goldman Sachs to advise it on strategy in the increasingly likely event of a takeover bid.
Industry sources said it was most likely that the bank was hired to advise on tactics to fend off an unwanted bid from a consortium of investors led by Oracle boss Ellison. Others speculate that its appointment might be the first step by Apple towards brokering a sale to a friendly suitor, such as Sun Microsystems.
Although Apple chief executive Gil Amelio insisted in a radio interview on Thursday that the company "is not up for sale", he avoided answering direct questioning about the role Goldman Sachs would play.
Meanwhile, as Ellison steps up the pressure by making contact with all Apple?s major institutional investors, Amelio and his team have decided to beef up their own propaganda campaign with the signing up of Wall Street public relations firm Abernathy McGregor Group, which specialises in mergers and acquisitions activities.
In other developments in the increasingly fast-moving Apple story, co-founder Steve Jobs took further pains to distance himself from his "best buddy" Ellison?s planned coup when he told the 'Wall Street Journal'; "I have made it clear to Gil [Amelio] that Gil doesn?t have to be afraid that I?m trying to help someone else take over the company."
Last week it was revealed that Ellison has hired a San Francisco headhunting agency to put together a list of candidates to run Apple under his chairmanship (see separate story and analysis). On Friday, Silicon Valley gossip speculated that John Chen, chairman of Siemens Nixdorf Information Systems, would be Ellison?s choice to replace Amelio, who would be sacked in the event of a successful takeover.
But Ellison?s plans are meeeting with increasingly vocal opposition from Apple investors and end users who are channeling their dissent via a newly-set up Web site with the title: "Fight back for the Mac - don?t let Elllison have his way." (see separate story).
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