Oracle's Ellison steps aside, co-CEOs Catz and Hurd take over

Thu Sep 18, 2014 7:01pm EDT
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By Noel Randewich and Bill Rigby

SAN FRANCISCO/SEATTLE (Reuters) - Larry Ellison, co-founder and leader of Oracle Corp (ORCL.N: Quote) for almost four decades, stepped aside as chief executive on Thursday, to be replaced by co-CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, but stressed that nothing at the business software company will change.

The move comes earlier than expected by many investors, and appears designed to address concerns about the company's direction under Ellison, 70, who has been the Oracle's only CEO in its 37-year history.

"While there was some speculation Larry could step down, the timing is a bit of a head scratcher and the Street will have many questions," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. "Investors have a mixed view of Safra and especially Hurd as co-CEOs given the missteps we have seen from the company over the past few years."

Oracle shares fell 2 percent to $40.70 in after-hours trading after it reported the management shake-up and profit below Wall Street's average forecast, hurt by weak hardware sales.

"I'm going to continue doing what I've been doing over the last several years. They're going to continue what they've been doing over the last several years," Ellison said on a conference call with analysts, referring to Hurd, 57, and Catz, 52. "Mark and Safra have done a spectacular job and I think they deserve the recognition of their new titles."

Catz, responding to an analyst who asked what the management shuffle would mean further down the company, said nothing will change.

"I want to make sure we are very, very clear. There will actually be no changes," said Catz. "No changes whatsoever."

The creation of two CEO roles, which has largely been unsuccessful when tried at other companies, raises questions of how Catz and Hurd will work together at the top.   Continued...

Oracle Corp Chief Executive Larry Ellison introduces the Oracle Database In-Memory during a launch event at the company's headquarters in Redwood Shores, California June 10, 2014.  REUTERS/Noah Berger