2021 may go out with a bang! The Wall Street Journal (paywalled) reported late Thursday that software colossus Oracle was in discussions with EHR giant Cerner to buy it, lock stock dropdown menus and workflows. And soon, according to the WSJ‘s sources. The reported amount is $30 billion.
It would be Oracle’s most expensive purchase ever, much more than PeopleSoft (HR) in 2005 and NetSuite in 2016. Given their valuations, Cerner is a snack at $23 billion for Oracle at $280 billion. But Cerner gives Oracle four-star entree to healthcare and practice systems. Oracle has long seen healthcare as a growth area for cloud computing services targeted to payers, hospitals, and health systems, and has clients like Cleveland Clinic and Kaiser. Back in June 2020, they launched a cloud service collecting clinical data from sensors, patient apps, EHRs, and labs supporting therapy development.
As our Readers know, David Feinberg, MD left Google Health to join Cerner as president and CEO on 1 October [TTA 21 August] in a $34.5 million compensation package [TTA 24 August]. An acquisition by Oracle, in such a short time, can be interpreted as either a coup he engineered for the shareholders (and for his benefit, as change of control usually vests the package!), or he can be viewed as a placeholder for the top spot on a previously moving deal. Both are mature companies. While Cerner has been losing market share to Epic and has had many woes with its $18 billion VA Cerner Millenium implementation [TTA 3 Dec, 28 July], it also generates $1 billion per year in free cash flow and Oracle can institute operational efficiencies to increase profit margins. In the view of some, Oracle is returning to an aggressive market strategy that most felt it left behind.
Oracle shareholders didn’t like it much today, with shares declining over 6% on Friday to $96.67. But Cerner’s liked it a lot, increasing price nearly 13% to $89.77. Kansas City-based Cerner also had 150 layoffs in November in its 28,000 employee staff. Oracle recently relocated from California to Austin, Texas, shrinking its office footprint. Seeking Alpha 17 Dec, 17 Dec AM; Kansas City Star, Becker’s HealthIT
Updated–see our short article on the sale for $28.3 billion here.