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11/26/2003
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Raising Revenue Issue

Oracle says there may be accounting concerns in a PeopleSoft protection program

Oracle says it's still determined to acquire PeopleSoft Inc., despite a Justice Department investigation that could stretch into the new year, a European Commission inquiry that could take four months, and PeopleSoft's defense tactics.

But during a conference call last week, executive VP Charles Phillips said without elaborating that Oracle "won't pay any unreasonable price just to claim victory." Oracle, which plans to nominate an alternate slate of directors to PeopleSoft's board in May, also raised questions around PeopleSoft's accounting practices as they relate to its customer–assurance program. The plan, spelled out in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, promises refunds up to five times license fees if PeopleSoft is acquired within two years and the buyer changes products and support within four years. If any contract says what the SEC filing says, "then we think there may be a significant amount of revenue that shouldn't have been realized," said Jeffrey Henley, Oracle's executive VP and CFO.

A PeopleSoft spokeswoman says the company's revenue recognition is legitimate. Edward Hansen, a partner with technology and business law firm Shaw Pittman LLC, says he'd be surprised if it wasn't alright. Says Hansen, "Revenue recognition is something PeopleSoft is always very careful about."

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