REDWOOD CITY -- Even as Oracle (ORCL) begins to reap the benefits of its move into cloud-based software, it continues to add to its portfolio through acquisitions, announcing the purchase of Eloqua for more than $800 million Thursday.
Eloqua's cloud-based suite of marketing applications "will become the centerpiece" of a new Oracle offering designed for marketing companies and departments, Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of development at Oracle, said in Thursday's announcement. The software giant agreed to pay $23.50 a share for the Virginia-based company, which Oracle said would mean a commitment of $871 million; the company sold shares for $11.50 in its August initial public offering in August and closed Wednesday at $17.92, giving the price a premium of 31.1 percent.
Oracle has been forcefully pushing into software as a service, or SaaS, through acquisitions for more than a year, beginning with the $1.5 billion purchase of RightNow Technologies in October 2011, which preceded the purchase of Dublin-based Taleo for $1.9 billion. The Redwood City software giant used those companies to roll out a suite of cloud services for different industries earlier this year, and its efforts began to show fruit earlier this week, when Oracle announced that its most recent quarter produced a 17 percent rise
Former Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO and current Oracle President Mark Hurd said Tuesday in reference to the earnings report that the company's cloud offerings are expected to produce $1 billion in revenue, and "will become much bigger over time," Bloomberg News reported. The company has been beefing up its sales force in recent months in order to push its SaaS subscriptions.
In Eloqua, Oracle bought software and management talent that aims for a new enterprise sector, providing opportunity for more growth.
"The Oracle-Eloqua combination will create a customer experience cloud offering which helps organizations transform the way they market, sell, support and serve their customers," Joe Payne, Eloqua's CEO and chairman, wrote in a blog post on the company's site, adding that Oracle planned to make the company's employees and management team the core of its new cloud marketing division.
"Although Oracle already had strong marketing functionality, this gives it a cloud offering to deliver and an additional base of midmarket customers providing a recurring license maintenance stream," Nucleus Research analyst Rebecca Wettemann told Reuters.
Oracle may not be done dealing, either: Nomura analysts said in a research report that they expect the software company "to continue to make acquisitions in this space, to bolster its Fusion Applications suite and respond to competitive pressure in the applications market from SAP and Salesforce.com."
The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2013, Oracle said, and Eloqua shareholders must first approve the deal, which the company's board already has.
Oracle shares dropped 0.4 percent to $33.94 Thursday, after hitting their highest price in 19 months on Wednesday. Eloqua -- which trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol ELOQ -- soared 32 percent to $23.66, reflecting the premium Oracle has agreed to pay.
Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.