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Ellison roasts HP chairman for 'absurd lie'

Drop 'invent' for 'steal,' Larry tells partner

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Larry Ellison has broadened his attack on Hewlett-Packard's management by accusing chairman Ray Lane of lying.

On Wednesday afternoon, Oracle's CEO issued a statement calling it an "absurd lie" to say that HP's CEO pick, Leo Apotheker, knew nothing of SAP's alleged theft of Oracle trade secrets.

Apotheker was CEO of SAP for eight inglorious months between May 2009 and February 2010. The alleged theft came through SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow. Oracle is suing SAP, and it arrives court on Monday.

"HP chairman Ray Lane has taken the position that Leo Apotheker is innocent of wrongdoing because he didn't know anything about the stealing going on at SAP while Leo was CEO. The most basic facts of the case show this to be an absurd lie," Ellison said.

"Leo knew all about the stealing. In fact, Leo did not stop the stealing until seven months after he became CEO. Why so long? We'd like to know.

"Ray Lane and the rest of the HP Board do not want anyone to know. That's the new HP Way with Ray in charge and Leo on the run. It's time to change the HP tagline from 'Invent' to 'Steal'."

Did we mention Lane and Ellison used to work together? Lane was Oracle's president and COO until he left ten years ago because Ellison wanted more control of Oracle.

Ellison's statement came after an earlier diatribe on US television network CBS and followed a Ray Lane letter to the New York Times clearing Apotheker of involvement in the claimed theft of Oracle trade secrets. Lane wrote that Apotheker knew nothing of the theft, because the subsidiary wasn't under his control. As CEO, Apotheker closed down TomorrowNow.

But Lane couldn't leave it there. He continued that former HP CEO Mark Hurd was the real liar, having repeatedly violated the HP board's trust after a probe into allegations of sexual harassment found some misreported expenses. HP dumped Hurd and named Apotheker incoming CEO soon after.

Hurd is Ellison's tennis buddy and a close personal friend, and he was hired by Ellison after being ejected from HP to run Oracle's Sun-hardware business.

Ellison laid into HP's board for dumping Hurd, calling them idiots, and accused them if not putting the interests of the company's shareholders first. When HP started legal proceedings against Hurd to stop him working at Oracle on the grounds that Oracle is a competitor, Ellison only got madder.

Oracle's CEO slammed the action against his friend as "vindictive" and warned it was "making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace."

HP then hired Apotheker from Oracle's ERP nemesis SAP.

That - as of Wednesday afternoon, at least - is the story. ®

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