Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oracle's President Replaces Resigned CFO

Oracle Chief Financial Officer Jeff Epstein has resigned after less than three years in that role. The position will be filled by current President and ex-CFO Safra Catz, who will remain as president.

Catz, who was CFO from November 2005 until September 2008, has been Oracle's president since 2004 and on the board of Directors since 2001. The company made the announcement Monday, and said Catz' appointment as CFO was "permanent and effective immediately."

No reason was given for Epstein's departure.

'No More Logical Choice'

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said Catz "already has the long-standing confidence of our employees, our board, and our shareholders," adding that "there is no more logical choice for CFO."

Board Chairman Jeff Henley noted that the CFO position had been reporting to Catz, and, as she previously served in that role, she is quite familiar with the responsibilities.

Epstein had been CFO since August 2008, when he replaced Catz. Before Oracle, Epstein was CFO of casual and social game publisher Oberon Media. Before that, he worked for DoubleClick, now owned by Google.

He was recruited to become CFO. The two previous holders of that position -- Harry You and Greg Maffei -- each held the job for less than a year. Catz similarly stepped into that position on an interim basis immediately after the departures of You and Maffei.

You resigned to become CEO of a tech consulting firm. Maffei, who was both CFO and president, left to become CEO of Liberty Media.

Up 78 Percent

Catz's time as CFO means she has more seniority in that position that any of the three men who have held that position since Jeff Henley left in 2004 to become chairman of the board.

Industry observers have noted that Oracle's corporate culture is not for the weak of heart, and Catz's experience in that position may have made her a tougher boss to the reporting CFO.

Others have suggested that ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Mark Hurd, who joined Oracle after leaving HP last summer following an investigation for sexual harassment, may have taken on some of the responsibilities that a CFO normally would have, such as communicating with investors and customers.

In fact, there has been some speculation among Oracle watchers that these moves better position Hurd as an eventual replacement for Ellison, 66, since it could mean that Hurd acquires more control over daily operations of the company. Others see Catz, who has rotated through the CFO position several times, as now in the strongest position.

The executive changeover has not had a noticeable effect on the company's stock prices, which dropped half a percent in pre-market trading Tuesday. Oracle has reported that fiscal third-quarter profits in March were up 78 percent.

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