Originally created 04/01/97

Apple chairman scoffs at Oracle chairman's takeover musings



SAN JOSE, Calif. - Add Apple Computer chairman Gil Amelio to the list of people unimpressed by software tycoon Larry Ellison's talk about a possible takeover of the struggling company.

Amelio - who would lose his job if the Oracle Corp. chairman succeeds in gaining control of Apple - dismissed Ellison's plans as "nonsense."

A change of leadership would be a mistake now that Apple is undergoing a sweeping reorganization, Amelio said in an interview published Friday in the San Jose Mercury News.

"If as a consequence of some suitor coming along, if that were to catapult us in new directions, that would be very bad at this point in time. Because I think we do have it figured out," Amelio said.

Ellison, who previously has said he'd like to buy Apple, is forming an investor group and will decide within a couple of weeks whether to make an offer. The effort would be independent of Oracle, the second-largest software company behind Microsoft Corp.

The Oracle chairman disclosed his plans in an interview published in the Mercury News on Thursday. He said Apple needs new management and leadership if it is to survive.

Ellison admitted his statement was a trial balloon to gauge interest in the idea. Later that day, he set up an electronic mailbox - savapple@us.oracle.com - and invited Apple employees, customers, stockholders and the computer industry to respond to his idea.

If he makes a bid, Ellison said, it would give current shareholders 60 percent in cash and 40 percent stock in Apple, provided they agree to sell at the stock's current price.

Industry analysts didn't think much of the idea, pointing out that shareholders could do as well simply by selling 60 percent of their stock. Some also said the problems that have caused Apple's bottom line, market share and stock price to plummet are too ingrained to be solved simply by replacing its management.

Ellison, after booting Amelio, other top managers and current directors, wouldn't run the company himself. He said he probably would sit on Apple's board of directors but not hold a top management position.

Ellison saw a similar role for his pal Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder. Jobs was ousted from the company in a power struggle in 1985, but returned to the company in December as an adviser when Apple bought his Next Software Inc.

Jobs has repeatedly said he has no desire to move beyond his adviser role. He is not involved in Ellison's - or anyone else's - possible bid for Apple.