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renewed its offer to buy out



after the close of trading Thursday, but to the disappointment of some on Wall Street, the database giant kept the offer price at $21 a share, or about $7.7 billion.

PeopleSoft shares have risen sharply this fall, first on news that a federal judge had rejected a suit brought by the Department of Justice to stop the merger on antitrust grounds, and then on

the firing of PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway. There was some expectation that Oracle would sweeten the pot despite some poor mouthing of PeopleSoft by Oracle, which has called its target "damaged goods."

But Thursday's announcement is simply routine; Oracle has renewed the offer many times since it began the fight in June 2003, and the prospective buyer can raise or lower the bid before the offer expires. The latest offer expires at midnight on Friday, Oct. 22.

According to Oracle, it now controls 11.7 million shares, or about 3.2% of PeopleSoft's common stock. That's about half of the shares that had been tendered in September, but it's difficult to glean much -- if anything -- from that number because it fluctuates as shareholders tender and then withdraw stock as needed.

PeopleSoft gained 4 cents in after-hours trading, after losing 13 cents, or less than 1%, during the regular session. Oracle was flat after hours; the Redwood Shores, Calif., company gained 5 cents to close at $12.29.

Earlier Thursday, according to published reports, a crucial ruling by European Union on

the legality of Oracle's attempted takeover of PeopleSoft is now expected no later than Nov. 9.