Ellison gambles on share option

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The Independent Online

Larry Ellison, founder of US software giant Oracle and arch rival of Microsoft supremo Bill Gates, is giving up his salary.

Larry Ellison, founder of US software giant Oracle and arch rival of Microsoft supremo Bill Gates, is giving up his salary.

But the 56-year-old computer genius with a penchant for flying fighter planes need not despair. Worth an estimated $47bn - only slightly less than Mr Gates - he will instead receive 20 million share options.

It is estimated that the tranche of share options could be worth $483.3m to Mr Ellison in 10 years' time if the stock appreciates by 10 per cent a year.

Filings with America's Security and Exchanges Commission reveal that last year Mr Ellison received a salary of $208,000 and no bonus. By comparison, Mr Gates was generously rewarded for his stewardship of Microsoft. The Seattle-based software giant's latest filings show he was paid a salary of $400,213 plus a bonus of $223,160.

Despite these figures, both men derive most of their wealth from their large shareholdings. Mr Gates owns 15.3 per cent of his brainchild while Mr Ellison controls 23.48 per cent of his baby.

Mr Ellison and Mr Gates have spent the year vying for the title of the world's richest man. The Oracle founder briefly overtook his arch enemy earlier this year as the anti-Trust investigation of Microsoft weighed heavily on the value of Mr Gates's shareholding. The latest estimates by Forbes Global, the US business magazine, suggest the Microsoft founder has once again regained the top spot with a wallet thought to be worth $60bn.

Mr Ellison's business acumen is unquestioned. Four years ago, he made a famous speech in Geneva warning the computer industry that the personal computer was dead and the future lay with the internet. His confidence in the web has since been vindicated.

This year has not been without its hiccups for Mr Ellison, who dropped out of college to set up Oracle, which he built into one of the world's largest companies. In July, he lost his right-hand man with the resignation of Ray Lane, who later complained about Mr Ellison's alleged refusal to share decision-making with him.

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