Latham elbows out Howrey and Morrison on Oracle battle

Latham & Watkins has muscled in on Oracle’s antitrust battle for Peoplesoft at the expense of original advisers Howrey Simon Arnold & White and Morrison & Foerster.

For Peoplesoft, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has ousted Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, thanks to a recommendation from antitrust crusader and Microsoft nemesis Gary Reback of Carr & Ferrell.

Reback told The Lawyer: “[Oracle chief executive officer] Larry Ellison was making a big noise with securities analysts saying that he is doing what Microsoft was doing. Microsoft dominates the desktop and he wants to dominate the back office. I rang Peoplesoft and said ‘I want to help’.”

After his titanic battles with Microsoft, Reback was taking time out of the law. He had launched technology company Voxeo and was writing a book when he heard Ellison’s comments and decided on a return to the fray.

Reback, who called Cleary Gottlieb partner Mark Leddy for assistance, said: “The company had a relationship with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. They were doing [the antitrust work] but we phased them out.”

Gibson Dunn partner Doug Smith continues to advise Peoplesoft on the corporate aspects of the deal. Linklaters is advising on EU competition issues.

Oracle’s hostile $9.3bn (£5.09bn) bid for Peoplesoft has sparked a litigation frenzy with Davis Polk & Wardwell fighting Peoplesoft’s ‘poison pill’ shareholders’ rights plan in Delaware. Gibson Dunn and Cleary are defending Peoplesoft’s defensive tactic.

The attention has since turned to San Francisco after the Department of Justice filed to block the merger, saying that the takeover would reduce competition in the enterprise software market, which is dominated by the two US companies and Germany’s SAP.

“The Government surprised them in San Francisco and Dan Wall [of Latham] was called in,” said Reback. Howrey Simon’s Jim Rill and Steve Smith of Morrison & Foerster had been arguing Peoplesoft’s case in Washington DC and Oracle turned to Latham for the first time when West Coast litigation strength was required.