Maffei tenure short as CFO at Oracle

BUSINESS DIGEST

Business Digest

November 04, 2005|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- Oracle Corp., the world's third-biggest software maker, said yesterday that Chief Financial Officer Greg Maffei has resigned after less than five months on the job.

Maffei, 45, joined in June and will leave Nov. 15, Oracle said. Co- President Safra Catz will take on the added job of CFO.

Oracle has had four finance chiefs in two years. Maffei, who had been hailed by chief executive Larry Ellison for his experience as Microsoft Corp.'s former finance chief, missed a meeting with analysts in New York last week and canceled another at a Goldman, Sachs & Co. event next week, fueling speculation that he might not be adjusting to Oracle.

"We have grown increasingly convinced that there are legitimate questions regarding Mr. Maffei's status at the company," Goldman analyst Richard Sherlund in New York, the top-ranked software analyst by Institutional Investor, said in a note to clients yesterday.

Co-President Charles Phillips made no mention of Maffei at a Morgan Stanley event in Phoenix Wednesday when discussing Oracle's managers. He noted that 10 people in the finance department have been at the company 10 years or longer.

Maffei became Oracle's third co-president, along with former Morgan Stanley analyst Phillips and Catz, who Ellison said in September he views as his successor. Maffei also ran the legal department, human resources, manufacturing and distribution, administration and real estate. But he had trouble adjusting to Oracle's culture and alienated Catz, said people familiar with the situation.

"It is a team environment," Phillips said in Phoenix. "People who do well at Oracle are people who understand that and don't mind exchanging ideas."

Ellison hired Maffei in a move seen as bolstering Oracle's ambitions for acquisitions. The company has spent more than $18 billion buying nine companies this year, and at the time he came on board, analysts expected Maffei to play a role.

Maffei graduated in 1986 from Harvard Business School in the top 5 percent of his class. He is a director of video-game maker Electronic Arts Inc. and coffee retailer Starbucks Corp. During his brief tenure, Maffei didn't seem to have played a major role in Oracle's acquisitions. Phillips was the lead negotiator on the planned $5.85 billion buyout of Siebel Systems Inc.

"Greg has told us he's looking at a terrific professional opportunity," Ellison, 61, said in the statement. "We wish him well."

"My resignation from Oracle is not a reflection on the company, its executives or employees," Maffei said in the company's statement.

Shares of Oracle dropped 28 cents to close at $12.20 yesterday on the Nasdaq stock market. They have slumped 11 percent this year.

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