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Ex-HP chief named co-president at Oracle

By Richard Waters, FT
Mark Hurd, shown in this file picture, was forced out of Hewlett Packard over code of conduct breaches.
Mark Hurd, shown in this file picture, was forced out of Hewlett Packard over code of conduct breaches.
  • Mark Hurd to become co-president of software maker Oracle
  • Appointment comes after he was forced out as head of Hewlett-Packard
  • Key position reflects his continued support in Silicon Valley

San Francisco, California (FT) -- Mark Hurd is to become co-president of software maker Oracle only a month after being forced out as head of Hewlett-Packard over breaches of the computer makers' code of conduct.

The rapid return by one of the technology industry's best-known executives reflects the strong support he has continued to receive in some corners of Silicon Valley, in spite of his falling-out with HP's board after an investigation of sexual harrassment allegations levelled by a former HP marketing consultant and actress, Jodie Fisher.

Oracle late on Monday named Mr Hurd as one of its two presidents and a board director, giving him a key supporting role to co-founder and chief executive Larry Ellison. Mr Ellison has been one of Mr Hurd's strongest public supporters since the surprise move by HP in early August to force out its former chief executive over breaches of its conduct of business rules tied to misstatement of expenses and his "inappropriate" relationship with Ms. Fisher.

The two executives are friends and play tennis together. The outspoken Oracle chief criticised the decision to push Mr Hurd out as "the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago" in an e-mail to The New York Times.

HP should have kept Mr Hurd on since it had found no truth to Ms Foster's sexual harassment allegations, Mr Ellison said, adding: "In losing Mark Hurd, the HP board failed to act in the best interest of HP's employees, shareholders, customers and partners".

Oracle would not comment on Monday on whether its board had carried out its own review into the circumstances of Mr Hurd's departure from HP. However, Mr Ellison's quick display of public support and the speed of the appointment suggested it did not feel the need to dig deeper given he had been cleared of the most damaging sexual harassment charges.

"Their loss is our gain," said one person close to the software maker. Mr Hurd replaces Charles Phillips, a former Morgan Stanley analyst who left the company on Monday, Oracle said.

In a statement, Mr Ellison said that Mr Phillips had approached him about leaving the company last December, but had agreed to stay on for a transitional period following its acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

As co-president, Mr Hurd will take over an expanded role that includes both Mr Phillips' responsibility for sales and marketing as well as putting him in charge of the company's 20,000-strong support organisation. Safra Catz, Oracle's other president, will continue to oversee operations and finance, with Mr Ellison taking charge of the company's engineering.