Verbalizing its intent to become the No. 1 customer relationship management (CRM) applications company, Oracle Corp. at press time had announced it had agreed to buy Siebel Systems Inc., San Mateo, Calif. The deal is valued at approximately $5.85 billion, or $3.61 billion net of Siebel's cash on hand of $2.24 billion."Siebel's 4,000 applications customers and 3,400,000 CRM users strengthen our No. 1 position in applications in North America and move us closer to the No. 1 position in applications globally," said CEO Larry Ellison from Oracle's Redwood Shores, Calif., headquarters.

Of the major segments of the enterprise applications business, CRM is the largest and fastest growing, estimated to be more than $8 billion in 2004 and expected to grow to $10 billion by 2009, according to analysts.

The deal was expected to close in early 2006, subject to regulatory approvals.

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