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BEA Says Willing to Discuss A Sale of Company

Reuters
Thursday, 25 Oct 2007 | 10:40 AM ET

BEA Systemssaid on Thursday it was ready to discuss a sale of the company at a price of $21 per share, setting a deal value of about $8.2 billion, far above an offer from Oracle.

Shares in BEA, which sells programs that help connect business computer systems, rose as much as 2.6 percent in early trading on hopes it could secure a deal with Oracle or another company. But the gains grew more muted after at least one potential suitor said it was not interested in the company.

BEA had already rejected Oracle's unsolicited offer of $17 per share, or $6.7 billion at the time of the bid, which is set to expire on Sunday. The company is also under pressure from activist shareholder Carl Icahn to find an offer higher than Oracle's bid.

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Officials at Oracle could not immediately be reached for comment.

"For the BEA board to make the claim that they are worth $21 (per share) without any detailed supporting analysis could mean that they have another interested party," said Jefferies analyst Katherine Egbert.

Companies that have been touted as possible buyers include International Business Machines, Hewlett-Packard and SAP.

An SAP spokesman said on Thursday the company was not interested in buying BEA. Representatives for Hewlett-Packard and IBM declined comment, while Icahn could not immediately be reached.

BEA said that Oracle had asked the company repeatedly over the last several weeks for a price at which it would be willing to begin negotiations.

BEA Sets Their Price
BEA says its $21 to talk, reports CNBC's David Faber

After consulting with its financial adviser Goldman Sachs, BEA's board estimates that Oracle or another company would still see earnings benefit if it acquired BEA Systems at $21 per share or higher.

BEA authorized its legal counsel to deliver a draft merger agreement to any third party that is willing to negotiate at that price level and is capable of closing a deal.

BEA shares rose 15 cents to $17.70 after trading as high as $18.01 in the session.

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