updated 10/22/2004 9:50:44 AM ET 2004-10-22T13:50:44

European Union regulators will decide Tuesday whether Oracle Corp.'s hostile $7.7 billion bid for rival business software concern PeopleSoft Inc. can proceed, the EU's antitrust chief said Friday.

The ruling on the proposed takeover would be two weeks earlier than expected.

If the European Union approves the merger, it will clear a major hurdle in Oracle's takeover of one of its few rivals in the business software market. Regulators had earlier said they planned to announce their ruling on Nov. 9, and it was not immediately clear why the date of the decision had been moved up.

"I will make a proposal (Tuesday) and will not elaborate on what it will be," EU antitrust chief Mario Monti told reporters Friday.

The U.S. Justice Department had initially opposed a merger between the two companies, but that decision was reversed by an American court.

The EU also initially opposed the merger, but after gathering more information about Oracle and the software market over the summer, it is now expected to clear the takeover.

European regulators are generally tougher on mergers that will create companies with larger market share than their U.S. counterparts, and Monti blocked a proposed merger between U.S. companies General Electric Co. and Honeywell International Inc. in 2001.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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