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The Peoplesoft board has fired CEO Craig Conway, citing a loss of confidence in his ability to lead the company.

In a statement, the board thanked Conway for his contribution to the company, but said that the decision to remove him had been taken unanimously.

The founder and chairman of the comapny, Dave Duffield, will take over as CEO, effective immediately. Kevin Parker, CFO, and Phil Wilmington will share the role of president.

The move, which is something of a surprise, comes amid mounting speculation that Oracle's $7.7bn hostile takeover bid will get the green light from the European Commission.

Conway has fought Ellison's bid since its launch in June 2003, when Peoplesoft was negotiating its own merger with JD Edwards.

Not all the company's investors approved of the way he handled the situation, a fact made clear by a jump in share prices following the announcement. Conway's departure has seen the stock rise above Oracle's bid price of $21 to $21.60- an 8 percent hike, at the time of this report.

However, the board also moved to quell speculation that Peoplesoft would now accept Oracle's bid, stating that "all decisions with respect to Oracle's tender offer have been made on the unanimous recommendation of the Transaction Committee of the Board". ®

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