Business World

Saturday 25 March 2017

Former HP chief in talks to take senior Oracle post

Mark Hurd in line for new job after surprise resignation

Mark Hurd, former
chairman, president, and
CEO of Hewlett-Packard,
shaking hands with Safra
Catz, president and chief
financial officer of Oracle,
at the Oracle Open World
event in San Francisco. Photo: Bloomberg News
Mark Hurd, former chairman, president, and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, shaking hands with Safra Catz, president and chief financial officer of Oracle, at the Oracle Open World event in San Francisco. Photo: Bloomberg News

Jordan Robertson

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd is in talks to take a top executive job at Oracle, the database software maker run by his friend Larry Ellison.

It wasn't immediately clear what job Mr Hurd would take. But a source said on Sunday that Mr Ellison, the only person to serve as Oracle's CEO since he founded the company 33 years ago, wouldn't be leaving that post. This person emphasised that the talks were not yet finalised.

The person was not authorised to discuss the confidential negotiations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The possibility of Mr Hurd landing at Oracle isn't a surprise. Mr Ellison was vocal in coming to Mr Hurd's defence after Mr Hurd's sudden resignation on August 6 in the wake of a sexual harassment investigation. Mr Hurd's resignation was astonishing because he was widely praised on Wall Street.

Investors praised his cost-cutting; HP announced about 50,000 job cuts over the five years Mr Hurd was CEO. Wall Street also liked that he engineered more than $20bn (€15.5bn) in acquisitions, which helped HP reduce its dependence on printer ink for the bulk of its profits. HP is now a major player in technology services and computer networking.

Those traits could help Mr Hurd at Oracle, which is also known for aggressive dealmaking and cost cuts. Mr Hurd would also join Oracle at an interesting juncture for both companies.

Oracle, the number one database software maker, and HP, the number one personal computer and printer maker, are long-time partners that are increasingly squaring off against each other. Oracle's $7.4bn acquisition of Sun Microsystems last year made it a competitor to HP in the market for computer servers.

Forced

In coming to Mr Hurd's defence following his resignation, Mr Ellison called HP's decision to oust Mr Hurd the worst personnel decision since Apple forced out Steve Jobs -- another of Mr Ellison's friends -- 25 years ago. Mr Jobs later returned and lifted Apple out of a funk, turning it on to a top maker of consumer-electronics products.

Mr Ellison has said the HP board's decision to publicly disclose the harassment claim against Mr Hurd amounted to "cowardly corporate political correctness", as the board had found that Mr Hurd didn't violate the company's sexual harassment policies.

The investigation unearthed inaccurate expense reports connected with Mr Hurd's outings with his eventual accuser, an actress and HP contractor named Jodie Fisher.

HP has emphasised that its board voted unanimously for Mr Hurd's resignation. (AP)

Irish Independent

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