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Oracle blames bird flu for slow recovery

Oracle Corp, the world’s second-largest software maker, said on Wednesday while customer activity in Asia had improved, spending remained cautious on worries over the spread of bird flu.
/ Source: Reuters

Oracle Corp, the world’s second-largest software maker, said on Wednesday while customer activity in Asia had improved, spending remained cautious on worries over the spread of bird flu.

“Compared to last year, there is undoubtedly more optimism, business momentum is coming through, and we’re seeing larger pipelines for Oracle, for the tech sector, and for our customers,” Oracle Asia Pacific Executive Vice President Derek Williams told Reuters in an interview.

“But the nagging concern about bird flu has tempered the optimism (on spending). There’s general concern about the disease, and WHO (World Health Organisation) warnings about human to human transmission,” he added.

However, Oracle has not implemented any travel bans for its staff, he added.

The human death toll from Asia’s bird flu outbreak rose to 14 on Wednesday as a Vietnamese woman died from the virus that is infecting poultry in 10 countries and spreading through China.

Oracle’s Asian customers include Singapore Airlines Ltd, Malaysia’s Maxis Communications Bhd and Thailand’s Krung Thai Bank.

For the fiscal second quarter ended November, Oracle Asia Pacific chalked up revenues of $367 million, up 17 percent from $313 million in the first quarter. The region accounted for about 15 percent of worldwide sales in the fiscal year ended May 2003.

Sales of Oracle’s Linux applications and technology infrastructure upgrades at small- to medium-sized companies would drive its regional growth in 2004, Williams said.

“Governments in Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Vietnam are turning to solutions based on Linux for the public sector because of its low cost,” he added. Linux, which offers an alternative to Microsoft’s dominant Windows software, is an operating system that can be copied and modified freely.