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Larry Ellison has had to take on the role of company president as well as CEO, as Ray Lane quit the software giant unexpectedly last Friday. Oracle officials denied that his departure was related in any way to the recent so-called "Garbage Gate" affair.

Industry watchers have suggested that it was surprising Lane's departure had not come sooner, given the differences in style between Lane and Ellison.

Lane joined Oracle in 1992 to head its US operations, and he took over the day to day running of the company four years ago, and is widely credited with the company's rapid growth.

Ellison said, in a statement: "I am grateful to Ray for all his efforts. He will be missed. We wish him nothing but the best." No further comments have been issued by Oracle over the weekend, and Lane himself has not issued a statement. ®

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