updated 12/29/2004 8:08:30 AM ET 2004-12-29T13:08:30

Oracle Corp. said on Wednesday it has taken control of PeopleSoft Inc., now that about 75 percent of shareholders of the rival software maker have tendered their shares.

PeopleSoft earlier this month agreed to a sweetened $10.3 billion buyout by Oracle, relenting after an 18-month takeover saga which included courtroom battles and the ouster of PeopleSoft’s chief executive.

The initial period for the tender offer expired at midnight, while a subsequent offering period expires on January 4, 2005, according to a statement from Oracle.

The deal is expected to close in early January.

PeopleSoft Inc. founder David A. Duffield, who returned as chief executive during the company's losing battle to escape Oracle Corp.'s takeover, has quit the software maker before the deal closes, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.

Duffield resigned as CEO, chairman and director on Dec. 21, according to the brief document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He had been chief executive since October, when the board unexpectedly fired then-CEO Craig Conway.

It's not immediately clear whether an interim chief executive will be appointed to run the company before Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle officially takes over. Steve Swasey, a PeopleSoft spokesman, declined to elaborate beyond the filing.

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Lilienthal also declined to comment.

It's not surprising that PeopleSoft executives who publicly battled Oracle in courtrooms and in the media might not find jobs at Oracle. But Conway's firing and Duffield's return as CEO in October was seen as a sign PeopleSoft's board was willing to consider an Oracle takeover.

The fate of PeopleSoft's 12,000 employees also remains unclear after the merger.

Duffield served as chairman of Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft since its incorporation in 1987. He was also its chief executive from August 1987 through September 1999 before returning to the position in 2004.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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