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HP worried about an Oracle takeover after Hurd switched sides

Stephen Lawson | June 19, 2012
Hewlett-Packard voiced concerns about Oracle attempting a hostile takeover after it hired former HP CEO Mark Hurd as co-president, Oracle's lead counsel told a judge on Monday.

Daley said she was surprised at HP's demands because she believed the company had little chance of prevailing in its suit against Hurd. Most of all, she objected to a demand that Hurd stay out of Oracle's hardware business for his first 15 months.

"I was astonished and frustrated," Daley said. "This effectively said Mark need not come to work for a year-and-a-half."

But now the most critical provision of the Hurd Agreement is its first paragraph, in which the companies reaffirmed their partnership and said they would continue to work together just as before Hurd was hired by Oracle. HP says that provision is a commitment to continued porting, while Oracle co-President Safra Catz has called it nothing more than "a corporate hug."

In one of the many drafts that went back and forth between the companies, Daley referred explicitly to continued porting and joint marketing opportunities. In cross-examination on Tuesday, Frank, the HP attorney, grilled Daley over whether that draft reflected the substance of talks between Catz and HP enterprise business chief Ann Livermore, who were the lead negotiators of the agreement. Daley said it didn't all come out of those talks.

"Safra and Ann did not talk about porting. That was my language," Daley said. "I was using those as examples, myself."

Attorneys for the two companies also clashed over the witness list in the case. Oracle said it might call two more witnesses: Hurd and Oracle Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven. HP objected, saying the requests had come too late and it had only been informed last weekend. Judge Kleinberg said he would allow Hurd to testify but would take more time to consider whether Screven could be called.


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