Updated from Jan. 12
announced after the close Monday that CEO Larry Ellison is handing over his chairman title to the company's CFO as part of a decision by the software maker to split up the responsibilities of chairman and CEO.
At about 10:00 a.m. EST Tuesday, Oracle shares were down 32 cents, or 2.2%, to $14.74, although disappointing sales guidance from rival
was weighing on the stock as much as the management shuffle.
At a meeting Monday, the board elected CFO Jeff Henley to the chairman position, a post previously held by Ellison, who will remain CEO. Henley, who had been commuting from his home in Santa Barbara, Calif., to the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company, is retiring as CFO, though he will remain in that position until a successor is found. The company will hire an executive search firm to assist in finding his replacement, spokeswoman Jennifer Glass said.
The board also promoted both Safra Catz and Charles Phillips from executive vice president to president, continuing to report to Ellison. Catz will continue to be in charge of global operations, while Phillips, a former Morgan Stanley analyst, will be in charge of field operations, including sales, marketing and consulting.
Although Henley's retirement has been rumored for some time, Ellison's surrender of the chairman post was less expected, said First Albany analyst Mark Murphy. Murphy said he suspects broadening management control at the board level may be a corporate governance initiative.
Glass said the move was not part of a succession plan for Ellison, who has been criticized for not having a clear replacement.
However, Ellison does appear to be delegating more responsibility. Sales heads, for instance, will now report to Phillips, while in the past they reported directly to Ellison, according to Glass.
Murphy said he thinks such broadening of the management team's responsibility will be viewed positively by investors.
After hitting a 52-week high of $15.51 intraday Monday, Oracle closed up 42 cents, or 3%, to $14.66. After hours, the stock fell 7 cents, or 0.5%, to $14.59.
In a separate development reported earlier, the European Commission announced Monday that it needs more time to decide if Oracle's proposed takeover of rival software maker
The commission had been expected to make a ruling on the $7.25 billion hostile offer by the end of March. It will set a new deadline after it has received additional information.
In the U.S., meanwhile, the Department of Justice is expected to makes its decision about the deal sometime this quarter. Late last year, Oracle announced that it had satisfied the government's request for information on the merger.
The lengthy reviews by both set of regulators are generally seen as a signal of concern about the merger, but there's no accurate way to handicap the probable outcome. The combined companies still would be smaller than German software giant
, but there are concerns that the loss of yet another independent business software company would hurt customers.
In any event, PeopleSoft's shareholders have so far been reluctant to pledge their shares to Oracle; they aren't likely to change their minds unless PeopleSoft's share price falls below Oracle's $19.50 a share offer and/or the company stumbles badly. Even if the merger becomes popular with shareholders, PeopleSoft's management is well secured by the company's formidable "poison pill" defenses.
The European Commission has jurisdiction because both PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., and Oracle sell products in Europe.
PeopleSoft shares rose 27 cents, or 1.2%, to $23 Monday; the stock fell a penny in after-hours trading.