Oracle CFO resigns

In-house replacement announced

Oracle has lost its chief financial officer for the second time this year. The company announced last week that Greg Maffei will leave later this month, to be replaced by Oracle co-president Safra Catz.

"Greg has told us he's looking at a terrific professional opportunity says Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison in a written statement. "We wish him well."

Former Microsoft executive Maffei spent just four months at Oracle after joining the company in late June. He replaced Harry You, who left Oracle in March after eight months with the company. You departed to take over as chief executive of BearingPoint.

Oracle's CFO position has become a revolving door since long-time CFO Jeff Henley vacated the office in 2004 to become Oracle's chairman. Oracle said on Thursday that co-president Safra Catz will take over CFO duties, as she did following You's departure. Oracle intends for Catz to permanently fill the job, and is not conducting a search for a new CFO, a company spokeswoman says.

Official confirmation of Maffei's departure came after Wall Street analysts publicly questioned his absence at recent industry events. Oracle postponed a planned meeting with financial analysts last week, a delay Oracle co-president Charles Phillips attributed at the time to family emergencies, and Maffei cancelled a scheduled appearance next week at a Goldman Sachs Group investment conference.

"We have grown increasingly convinced that there are legitimate questions regarding Mr. Maffei's status at the company," Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherlund wrote on Thursday in a note to clients.

Prudential Equity Group analyst Brent Thill voiced similar concerns in his own research note. "Management has failed to give a consistent reason for [Maffei's] absence", Thill wrote shortly before Oracle announced Maffei's resignation. "We believe Oracle needs to confront the issue with a consistent message to avoid volatility in the stock and avoid the current speculation about his status with the company."

Oracle, based in Redwood Shores, California, is losing its CFO at an awkward time. The rabidly acquisitive company has been gobbling up a steady stream of smaller software makers, and is working to finalise its US$5.85 billion acquisition of Siebel Systems Inc. The US.Department of Justice recently requested more details from Oracle about the deal, which Oracle hopes to close early next year.

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