AP

SAN FRANCISCO — German business software maker SAP AG has agreed to buy Sybase Inc. in a US$5.8 billion deal that ratchets up SAP’s rivalry with database leader Oracle Corp. The acquisition is the first big move by SAP’s new co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe, who took over in February after the previous CEO, Leo Apotheker, suddenly resigned. The resignation came amid concerns over SAP’s faltering finances and its ability to counter the mounting threat from Oracle. SAP and Oracle are battling to run more of the programs that corporations use to manage their data. Their businesses overlap even more with SAP’s purchase of Sybase.

Oracle, meanwhile, has been on a US$40 billion buying binge since 2004 in what in most cases has been an attempt to muscle into SAP’s markets. Oracle’s primary business is making database software, an area where it’s the world’s leader with more than 40 percent of the market. Databases help companies store their information and retrieve it later through computer programs. Sybase is a small player in that market, with about 2 or 3 percent market share. Its absorption by SAP puts SAP into more direct competition with Oracle in that area. Oracle declined to comment.