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Apple’s Stock Buoyed by New Takeover Story : Electronics: Three technology companies--Oracle, Philips and Matsushita--are reportedly mulling a joint bid.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Reports of yet another potential takeover of Apple Computer--this time by a troika of technology companies--boosted the company’s shares 8% Friday.

Software maker Oracle Corp. and consumer electronics giants Philips N. V. of the Netherlands and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. of Japan are mulling a joint bid for Apple, according to the Jan. 16 issue of Information Week, an industry trade magazine.

Oracle, a designer of database software, would take Apple’s software technology while its hardware would be turned over to Philips and Matsushita, the magazine said.

The report was denied by a Philips spokesman while executives of Apple, Oracle and Matsushita declined comment. Apple Chief Executive Michael Spindler, while declining comment on the report, nonetheless told reporters: “I don’t think this company is for sale. My position is we are not shopping this company.”

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Apple stock closed at $42 in heavy trading on Nasdaq, up $3.125. Redwood City-based Oracle added 50 cents to close at $42.875. Analysts said it would likely cost $16 billion to acquire Apple in what is presumed to be a hostile takeover.

Cupertino-based Apple, a pioneer of the PC business, has been seen as possibly needing a merger partner to help it better challenge the industry dominance of Intel and Microsoft. Apple has been struggling to restructure its business and build a larger market for its Macintosh computers.

Acquisition rumors have been frequent over the years. Indeed, last October, Apple’s stock took another jump--by 12%--on rumors that it would be acquired by Motorola, its partner in semiconductor development. At that time, International Business Machines and AT&T; were also named as potential buyers.

As with the previous speculation, Oracle declined comment on the latest report.

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On the face of it, there is little about the deal that makes much sense, analysts and company officials said.

Oracle makes database software for large computer systems and has little expertise with personal computers. Most of the personal computers connected to Oracle-driven computers are IBM-compatible clones running Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

Although both Philips and Matsushita have unsuccessfully tried to enter the global PC market, each could create a Macintosh clone by licensing Apple’s software and buying microprocessors from Motorola, sparing them a costly acquisition.

A Philips spokesman called the report “ridiculous.”

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Those who know Oracle Chairman Lawrence Ellison say an Apple acquisition is in keeping with his ambition to take on Microsoft and its chairman, William Gates.


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