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UPDATE - PeopleSoft swallows J.D. Edwards

UPDATE - PeopleSoft swallows J.D. Edwards

The enterprise applications market received a major makeover today with PeopleSoft Inc.'s acquisition of rival J.D. Edwards & Co.

The enterprise applications market received a major makeover today with PeopleSoft Inc.'s acquisition of rival J.D. Edwards & Co. In a surprise move, Pleasanton, California-based PeopleSoft announced early Monday morning that it had signed an approximately US$1.7 billion deal to buy out Denver-based J.D. Edwards, creating what it estimates will be the second-largest business applications company after SAP AG. Executives at both companies affirmed their commitment to the companies' various product lines.

The newly joined company will have considerable clout in the marketplace, with $2.8 billion in annual revenue, 13,000 employees and more than 11,000 customers in 150 countries.

“We have a customer base that in many ways is complementary,” said Nanci Caldwell, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at PeopleSoft. PeopleSoft is especially strong in financial services, health care and telecommunications, and J.D. Edwards has a presence in asset-intensive industries and manufacturing, such as pulp and paper.

“We rarely see them (in competition). We believe this combination is really strong,” she said.

PeopleSoft plans to take its acquired asset and real estate management software and manufacturing software and sell it up to a higher level of customer, said Caldwell. In turn, it plans to sell its own human resources, procurement and supplier relationship applications to the more midrange manufacturing and distribution firms that make up J.D. Edwards’ installed base.

"This only represents an upside to our customers," J.D. Edwards Chairman, President and CEO Bob Dutkowsky said in an interview. He predicted that PeopleSoft's human resources and e-procurement applications will fill gaps in his company's portfolio.

Dutkowsky said the buyout had nothing to do with J.D. Edwards’ reported financial losses for the second quarter, announced last week, and said discussions actually began late last year. He predicted that the combined company would get a boost in its infrastructure and better leverage, particularly abroad, where it faces a heavily embedded SAP.

Said Caldwell, “This gives us much more scale and presence in those markets.”

As for management changes following from the purchase, a spokeswoman for J.D. Edwards said there will be none. The company will function as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Analysts offered mixed opinions about the deal.

“This is a very bold move by PeopleSoft, but is it a smart one?” said John Moore, an analyst at ARC Advisory Group Inc., a Dedham, Massachusetts-based consulting firm. He noted that the company now faces a very different set of technology platforms and customers, as well as two different cultures. Tackling those issues “could prove quite formidable and be a distraction for both companies at a time when they are barely making their numbers.”

On the other hand, “the combination should give PeopleSoft a particular boost in Europe, where it has had a problem convincing Europeans it was anything but a human resource company,” wrote analyst Jim Shepherd at Boston-based consulting firm AMR Research Inc. in a note issued today. He also said that this will give PeopleSoft a chance to break into the manufacturing market, which it has found tough to crack.

“While merging companies always say they have market synergy, this one is for real,” Shepherd said.

SAP, in a statement, said it doesn't expect the merger to affect it.

"PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards were already competitors of SAP," it said. "Their combination does not significantly change the competitive field and therefore has no major impact on SAP. Acquisitions always bring with them difficult challenges of integration and customer satisfaction. Otherwise, we have to await further developments to see if the PeopleSoft-J.D. Edwards combination will have any other effects on the market."

The transaction is expected to close by the third or fourth quarter of this year. -- Computerworld (US online)

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