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Oracle locks horns with Autonomy over sale claims

Alex Scroxton

His views on HP already being well known, Larry Ellison has now turned his fire on Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch, lambasting the boss of the UK's largest software firm - and HP's latest acquisition - in a statement titled 'Another whopper from Autonomy.'

Ellison took time out of his busy schedule to snipe at Lynch after the Autonomy boss went on record to refute his claims that Oracle had given his firm the once over in April this year.

Oracle claimed that Lynch "either has a very poor memory or is lying" and claimed that Lynch and his investment banker, Frank Quattrone, had met with Oracle M&A head Douglas Kehring and president Mark Hurd five months ago.

The database giant added that after a presentation, it declined to make an offer, saying Autonomy was over-priced.

Lynch said that although he and Quattrone indeed met with Hurd, it was merely an introductory meeting.

"At the start of the meeting they joked that Frank was there to sell them something. Frank and I made it clear that was not the case. We then met and had a lively discussion about database technologies," he said.

Autonomy has since issued a further statement claiming that a Powerpoint presentation offered up by Oracle as evidence that it was touting itself for sale earlier in the year may have been prepared by investment bankers Qatalyst without its knowledge.

"Oracle seems a little confused about the sequence of events and origins of the data it has received, something that would suggests it needs better management of and insight into the unstructured data on its internal systems. We would be delighted to help," the spokesperson said.

Last month, in what would turn out to be his last significant play as CEO, HP's Leo Apotheker - himself no friend of Ellison - announced the acquisition of Autonomy for $10bn.

Despite Apotheker's ignominious exit the acquisition is still on course, with shareholder approval expected next week.


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