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US DoJ gets more time to consider Oracle-Cerner merger

Big Red must wait to gets its teeth into health records giant

The US Department of Justice is set to get more time to examine the planned $28.5bn merger between Oracle and health records specialist Cerner after the global software giant agreed to delay the closure of the deal.

Under terms of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, both the DoJ and Federal Trade Commission are set to review the takeover of the Kansas City-based health tech firm by Oracle with regard to anti-competition concerns.

Having previously expected the sale to close on 15 February, Oracle has extended its tender offer for the Cerner acquisition until 16 March. All other conditions remain the same, according to an Oracle press release [PDF] and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings [PDF].

Oracle made an earlier SEC submission to extend the deadline on 4 February, but it has since been withdrawn.

News of Big Red's desire to buy its way into the health records software market broke in December last year.

At the time, Oracle CEO Safra Catz showed impeccable bedside manners for a world still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

"Healthcare is the largest and most important vertical market in the world – $3.8 trillion last year in the United States alone," she said. "Cerner will be a huge additional revenue growth engine for years to come as we expand its business into many more countries throughout the world."

In 2018, Cerner signed a $10bn deal with the Department of Veterans Affairs to upgrade its electronic health records system. Shortly afterwards the budget was expanded to $16bn.

However, last year the department's Inspector General found that hospital workers were not adequately trained on the new software during a pilot programme at a small facility. The timeline for the project has since been revised.

In the UK, Cerner has won more than £100m in NHS contracts in the last year alone and was a key player in the National Programme for IT, which went down as one of the greatest IT disasters in public sector history. ®

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