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Oracle Rejects BEA Systems' Price Tag

Oracle refuses to budge from its $17-a-share offer.

Updated from 11:02 a.m. EDT

SAN FRANCISCO --

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

rejected late Thursday

BEA Systems'

move to put a price tag on itself.

In a tersely worded letter, Oracle President Charles Phillips called BEA's counterproposal at $21 a share "an impossibly high price for Oracle or any other potential acquirer." He said the proposal represents an 80% premium to BEA's stock price.

Earlier in the day, the board of BEA, the San Jose, Calif.-based maker of business software, broke its silence, saying its stock is worth $21 a share.

Oracle

had publicly disclosed an offer of $17 a share to BEA on Oct. 12 and has since

set a deadline of Sunday for acceptance.

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"We continue to believe that Oracle's unsolicited proposal to acquire BEA at $17 per share significantly undervalues BEA," the board said.

"Oracle has repeatedly asked us for the price at which we would be willing to begin negotiations." After consulting with financial adviser Goldman Sachs, the board authorized negotiations with "third parties including Oracle" at $21 a share, the board said.

Shares of BEA Systems closed down 2 cents to $17.53. It has traded above $17 since the Oracle offer was disclosed.

Draft merger agreements are being delivered to those third parties Thursday. Although no other offers have been made public, analysts speculate that

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

and

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

are candidates.

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

has said publicly that it has no interest in acquiring BEA.

Activist investor Carl Icahn, who holds a 13.2% stake in BEA, has publicly encouraged the company to hold out for more than Oracle has offered.Phillips said Oracle would move on to other potential acquisition targets if BEA does not accept $17-a-share offer by Sunday.