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Oracle CFO: no acquisitions needed to compete in cloud

By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Oracle Corp has all the pieces it needs to compete in cloud computing but is always interested in looking at compelling M&A opportunities, Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz told investors.

Speaking at Oracle's annual investor day on Thursday, co-founder and Chief Executive Larry Ellison also said the company is near to turning around its struggling hardware division, talking up Oracle's high-end, proprietary computer hardware.

Catz said Oracle is now a one-stop shop for companies moving to cloud computing, while rivals like Amazon.com and Salesforce.com each offer some but not all of the necessary components.

Echoing comments by Ellison to CNBC television earlier this week, Catz said Oracle has no need for any big acquisitions, but left the door open.

"You know us, I'm a personal shopper for our CEO. When we find something that's really compelling that we think we can make a lot of money for all of you with, we're going to buy it," she said.

"We don't feel pressed to buy anything. We've got all the most incredible parts right now," she added.

Ellison was slow to embrace cloud computing, which is a broad term referring to the delivery of computer services via the Internet from remote data centers.

But his company is now rushing to promote its own offerings in the rapidly growing area and has also acquired several firms selling Internet-based software as its corporate customers embraced younger cloud rivals including Salesforce, Amazon.com and Google Inc.

Oracle's strategy is to offer its customers complete cloud-computing packages, including operating systems, databases and software, as well as the hardware infrastructure needed to run them.

HARDWARE STRUGGLES

While high-end computers are key to Ellison's vision, Oracle has been struggling to turn around its hardware division since it acquired that business with its 2010 purchase of troubled Sun Microsystems for $5.6 billion.

Sales have fallen every quarter since Ellison bought Sun, frequently by a larger margin than the company has forecast.

Oracle blames the unit's troubles on plunging sales of low-end computer services running other companies' technology, including Intel's "x86" processors, similar to the chips that power most PCs.

Ellison, who missed last year's Oracle investor event due to the death of Apple co-founder and friend Steve Jobs, told analysts that sales of high-end, higher-margin servers and storage gear based on Oracle's own technology are about to overtake sales of those less profitable machines.

This would clear the way for future growth in Oracle's hardware business.

While Oracle is focusing its proprietary hardware efforts for now on cutting-edge customers, Ellison said he will eventually market his proprietary machines more widely.

"We're not just going after the high-end of the computer market. We're going after the entire computer market, including rooms full of x86s," he said.

Oracle unveiled a raft of new cloud-oriented products at its annual users conference this week in San Francisco. They included an updated version of its top-selling corporate database along with computers.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Richard Pullin)

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