A gentleman's agreement between
to keep dirty laundry out of the public record has broken down, and both companies are working hard to convince investors that the other guy isn't playing fair.
In fact, a quick reading of an uncensored 37-page court filing related to the takeover battle makes it clear that everybody's laundry is stained, and the behind-the-scenes chatter as revealed by internal emails obtained in legal discovery is as nasty as you might imagine.
Consider this tidbit from an internal email written by an unnamed Oracle employee written shortly after his company's hostile bid for its rival: "We've certainly wounded PSFT. ... Even if we don't end up closing the deal, this is going to take PSFT time to recover."
And then the same employee boasted about how Oracle plays hardball: "And, of course, our corporate image of being aggressive, brash, and marching to the tune of a different drummer has been reinforced. I dunno about you guys, but today I was very proud to be an Oracle employee!"
The excerpts are part of a document filed in the Superior Court of Alameda County, Calif., on Aug. 12, when the company amended its original lawsuit against Oracle. The suit alleges that Oracle was at least as interested in damaging PeopleSoft's business, including its pending acquisition of
, as it was in actually consummating the deal, now worth $7.3 billion.
Major portions of the original document were redacted, that is censored, at the request of the attorneys involved. But when portions leaked out, the full document was circulated and Oracle announced that it has asked the judge to make all of it public. PeopleSoft said it will not oppose the move.
The uncensored court filing doesn't contain the actual Oracle emails -- it merely quotes part of them, and interprets them for the reader. "PeopleSoft's filing is rife with comments taken out of context as PeopleSoft continues to litigate the issue in the court of public opinion," said Oracle spokesman Jim Finn. "It is simply another diversionary tactic designed to further place the interests of PeopleSoft's management before the interests of its shareholders and customers."
The lawsuit quotes an email from Safra Catz, an Oracle executive vice president, sent the day after Oracle announced its tender offer, stating that Oracle will not continue to support PeopleSoft products after the takeover, a concern shared by many PeopleSoft customers.
"This is a really exciting opportunity for Oracle," Catz wrote to colleagues. "Though we really won't be continuing their product line or combining operations, there will no doubt be challenges."
But Oracle execs said the statement (which they shared with
) was taken out of context and didn't include a number of points made later in the email that contained numerous references to Oracle's plans to support existing PeopleSoft products and customers.
PeopleSoft spokesman Steve Swasey declined to comment on the specifics of the document, saying, "the lawsuit speaks for itself."
He also revealed that PeopleSoft has reinstituted its controversial money-back guarantee, which offers refunds to new PeopleSoft customers in the event that Oracle buys the company and refuses to give them adequate support.
Finn scoffed at the offer, calling it "a hollow gimmick" and restating his company's commitment to support PeopleSoft products for longer than PeopleSoft itself would have done.
There is one small note of comfort for the much-maligned community of analysts: Oracle at least takes its opinions seriously. Internal company documents quoted in the suit make a number of references to their importance, and make it clear that Oracle worked hard behind the scenes to win them over.