UPDATE 2-Oracle ruling slams SAP’s reputation
* SAP’s position may weaken
* SAP mulling appeal
* SAP shares down 1 pct, Oracle up 2 pct (Adds analyst’s comments, bylines and New York dateline)
FRANKFURT/NEW YORK, Nov 24 (Reuters) – SAP AG (SAPG.DE), slapped with a record $1.3 billion fine for stealing Oracle’s (ORCL.O) software, faces the task of salvaging its tarnished reputation and convincing U.S. clients not to flee to Oracle or International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N).
While SAP may get the damages reduced through an appeal, a prolonged legal battle could hurt its credibility and give rivals, which also include Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N), an advantage.
With U.S. Federal investigators looking into a possible criminal case against SAP, analysts see serious consequences beyond the actual fine. [ID:nLDE6AN02A]
“Even though SAP may appeal the judgment, the huge amount should be negative for the stock price and, will weaken SAP’s position in the U.S.,” said Jacques Abramowicz, analyst at Silvia Quandt research.
“Oracle will use the decision as a marketing tool, wielding the moral cudgel every time new contracts are negotiated.”
SAP and Oracle’s three-week courtroom drama captivated Silicon Valley with a slew of high-profile executives testifying.
The verdict, announced after the market closed on Tuesday, sent SAP shares down 1 percent to 35.84 euros, one of the biggest losers in Germany’s blue-chip index DAX. Oracle, on the other hand, rose 2 percent to $27.74.
SAP, based in the small town of Walldorf near Heidelberg, is considering appealing the decision by a U.S. district court jury in Oakland, California. Analysts said the fine was the biggest-ever related to software patent infringement.
The verdict and the maelstrom of negative publicity that followed are just the latest troubles for SAP. The company was criticized for angering customers with fee hikes in the midst of a recession, and former CEO Leo Apotheker — now the head of Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N) — left abruptly in February.
“This is a bad day for SAP that punctuates some rather poor decision-making over the past few years,” said Wells Fargo senior analyst Jason Maynard.
“From this episode of corporate theft to the ill-timed, recession-period maintenance price hikes, and then the sudden ousting of CEO Leo Apotheker, we think SAP needs to demonstrate better leadership going forward.”