Co-president and former CFO Safra Catz returns to the job on a permanent basis to replace Jeff Epstein; Oracle gives no reason for the move.
Oracle made a major change
in its corporate leadership team April 25, revealing that Chief Financial
Officer Jeff Epstein resigned and has been replaced by his immediate
supervisor, Co-president and former CFO Safra Catz.
Oracle offered no explanation
for Epstein's leaving his job after two-and-a-half years.
Epstein handled the bulk of
the huge corporation's financial dealings throughout the
$7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems
, a deal that took nine months
and a great deal of international red tape to close in January 2010.
During his tenure, Epstein
had little or no interaction with investors or the press. For example, during
quarterly earnings conference calls, Catz was the face of the company and
delivered its profit forecasts.
In another example, Catz
twice appeared in court during Oracle's intellectual-property trial against SAP
in November 2010 to represent his company's financial interests. The $1.3
billion judgment against SAP
was the largest dollar amount ever in a U.S.
Since 2004, Catz has been
shuffled around quite a bit, serving the software giant as president,
co-president with Charles Phillips, and co-president with former Hewlett-Packard
CEO Mark Hurd, who joined Oracle in September 2010
Catz also has served on the
Oracle board of directors since October 2001 and was the company's CFO while
serving as president or co-president from 2005 to 2008.
Oracle Co-founder and CEO
Larry Ellison said Catz's appointment was permanent and that she will maintain
the title of president.
"Safra already has the
long-standing confidence of our employees, our board and our
shareholders," Ellison said. "There is no more logical choice for
Generally, analysts' reaction
to the change was mild.
"It's safe to say that
in IT companies that have a kind of 'rock star' mentality when it goes to their
top executives, that the CFO will be the one who takes the stage at financial
analysts' meetings and take the questions that require long division,"
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told eWEEK.
"When you have a
company like Oracle, Microsoft, or others, the analysts' attention tends to go
to the higher-ranking C-level executives. Safra Catz is a great choice; she's
filled that role before. Before coming to Oracle, she was at an investment
banking firm, so the necessary skills are certainly within her purview."
"The CFO role at Oracle is
different from the CFO role at other companies. It's not as high profile,"
Jefferies & Co analyst Ross MacMillan told Reuters. "The company's
presidents have decision-making authority in many areas that would typically
fall under the CFO at a large corporation."
"It's not much of a
surprise," Brad Zelnick of Macquarie Securities said. "Oracle has a
very tough culture, even tougher when you have someone in the organization more
senior who knows the job so well like Safra Catz."
Oracle did not say what
Epstein would be doing next. He was only the third person to hold the CFO
position since long-time CFO Jeff Henley left the post to become Oracle's chairman
of the board.