According to people familiar with the matter, Oracle Corp. is in talks to buy electronic-medical records company Cerner Corp., which could be worth around $30 billion and push the enterprise-software giant further into healthcare.
Some people said that an agreement could be reached soon, assuming the talks don't fall apart or drag out. If a deal happens, it would rank as the biggest for Oracle, which has a market value of more than $280 billion.
Cerner is based in software that hospitals and doctors use to store and analyze medical records and other healthcare data. It has a market value of around $23 billion. Oracle, a Silicon Valley veteran last year moved its headquarters to Austin, Texas, is one of the biggest software providers to other companies and organizations.
In August, Cerner tapped David Feinberg as chief executive officer, a role he assumed in October. He came from Oracle rival Google, where he had led the Alphabet Inc. unit's push into healthcare and helped strike partnerships with some of the country's largest hospital systems to collect and analyze their data.
Oracle already has a strong presence in healthcare, and it is intended to help health insurers, healthcare providers and public health systems parse data to improve efficiency and improve patient outcomes.
The authorization for share repurchases was increased by $10 billion.
Cerner's purchase could help Oracle move to the cloud. After being slow to embrace the booming market for storing and analyzing data on remote servers, investors have warmed to Oracle as the company ramps up its focus on winning cloud-computing business. A deal for Cerner would follow Microsoft's agreement in April to buy artificial intelligence company Nuance Communications Inc. for $16 billion, a bet on growing demand for digital healthcare tools.
In 1977, Oracle was founded by the outspoken billionaire Larry Ellison and others. Ellison owns about 42% of the company's shares, a stake that is worth well over $100 billion. Ellison passed the CEO reins to Ms. Catz and the late Mark Hurd in 2014, but remains chairman and chief technology officer.
A deal for Cerner would easily beat Oracle's next-largest transaction, the roughly $10 billion purchase of enterprise software firm PeopleSoft Inc. in 2005, followed by a $9 billion deal for cloud-software provider NetSuite Inc. in 2016 and a $9 billion deal for cloud-software provider NetSuite Inc. in 2016.
In 2020, Oracle showed an appetite for bigger deals when it beat Microsoft in bidding for the video-sharing app TikTok's U.S. operations. The deal was put on hold by the Biden administration because of concerns about TikTok's Chinese ownership.
Cerner, founded in 1979, competes with private equity firms such as Epic Systems Corp. and Athenahealth Inc., which recently agreed to sell one group of private equity firms for around $17 billion, including debt.
One of the biggest takeovers of 2021 is expected to be an Oracle-Cerner deal, which is shaping up to be one of the busiest mergers and acquisitions. According to Dealogic, merger activity in the US is up 78% to $2.45 trillion, as lofty stock prices and easy money embolden companies to strike deals and special-purpose acquisition companies are formed at a breakneck pace.