New York (


) --


(ORCL) - Get Report

agreed to buy

RightNow Technologies


for $43 a share, valuing the cloud technology company with a customer service specialty at $1.5 billion when counting its debt.

RightNow's board unanimously approved the deal, which needs shareholder and regulatory approvals. The merger is expected to close at the end of the year or early 2012. The announcement didn't state whether the transaction is cash or stock.

The deal is a boost to Oracle's Public Cloud business, and it bolsters its presence in call center and social networking spaces.

At $43 a share, the purchase represents the highest price paid for RightNow, which went public in 2004. The Bozeman, Montana- based company founded in 1997 closed Friday trading at $35.96 a share and has gained 51.9% year to date.

"Oracle is moving aggressively to offer customers a full range of Cloud Solutions including sales force automation, human resources, talent management, social networking, databases and Java as part of the Oracle Public Cloud," said Thomas Kurian, an executive vice president at Oracle.

In a statement announcing the deal, RightNow founder and CEO Greg Gianforte said, ""RightNow's products add leading customer experience capabilities that help empower companies to interact with and provide a consistent experience to customers across channels."

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York