Is Charles Phillips leaving Oracle?

Analyst firm Wedge Partners says the Oracle co-President is close to leaving, but Oracle says it isn't so

Oracle co-President Charles Phillips may soon be leaving the company after some public missteps and a recent change in Oracle's upper management, a financial analyst company said Wednesday in a research note to its clients.

Oracle recently replaced Phillips as head of its global business units with Bob Weiler, the former CEO of life sciences software vendor Phase Forward, which Oracle acquired earlier this year, according to a research note from Wedge Partners.

The business units cover industry verticals such as utilities, banking and retail, and are often formed after Oracle makes an acquisition to help it tackle a particular market. The management change would leave Phillips responsible only for Oracle's sales and marketing and is a sign that he "may be moving on," said Wedge Partners analyst Ryan Hunter.

Oracle confirmed the management change but said there was no truth to the "speculation" that Phillips is leaving. The global business units do product engineering work and the changes were made to bring that work under the purview of Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison, to whom Weiler now reports, an Oracle spokeswoman said.

Phillips still has significant responsibilities at the company, she said.

Clouds gathered over Phillips after a bizarre incident earlier this year when billboards appeared in U.S. cities showing romantic photographs of him with a woman who was not his wife. Phillips acknowledged later that he had been having an affair, which he said was over, and the photographs were seen as an attempt by the woman to embarrass him.

Then in July, Phillips caused a stir when he said at a technology conference that Oracle planned to spend $70 billion in acquisitions over the next five years, which would be a sharp increase in its already aggressive acquisitions budget. Oracle dismissed the suggestion in a blunt statement that some saw as a public rebuke.

A former investment banker at Morgan Stanley, Phillips was hired by Oracle in 2003 to oversee the company's acquisition strategy. Since then, Oracle has acquired some 60 software companies and spent more than $30 billion.

Oracle's other co-president is Safra Catz, who was hired in 2004 and handles largely financial and legal matters. Last year she helped negotiate Oracle's purchase of Sun Microsystems with the European Union. Both executives report to Ellison.

If Phillips were to depart it is unclear who would take over Oracle's sales and marketing, Wedge Partners said. One name that has been floated as a potential Oracle hire is former HP Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd. Ellison is said to be friends with Hurd and defended him after his dismissal from HP, calling the HP board "cowardly."

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