Oracle Considers More Investment in Israel

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Oracle Corp (ORCL.N) CEO Safra Katz discussed a possible expansion of the company’s investment activity in Israel during a meeting on Tuesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his office said. The statement from Netanyahu’s office added that he and Katz also discussed opportunities arising from artificial intelligence.

The Israeli-born Katz, who has been with the technology company for decades and oversees all major acquisitions, is a close friend of Netanyahu. She has long ties to the country and advocates technology innovation and growth, notably in the Internet of Things, machine learning, and AI.

Her chemistry with Netanyahu is not the only reason many investors view her as the ideal candidate to succeed Ellison. Her long experience with the company and deep understanding of its global operations make her a natural fit for the job, according to those who have worked closely with her.

But even though she is widely viewed as the company’s most influential leader, Catz isn’t someone who seeks public attention or prefers to be surrounded by journalists. She is an intelligent, sharply dressed woman with a Snow White bob of jet-black hair who rarely gives interviews and only accepts calls from reporters she knows well.

If she has a personal agenda, it is to serve two, and only two, interchangeable masters: her husband, the billionaire entrepreneur Larry Ellison, and Oracle, which sells $23 billion worth of software and services each year. She is more interested in the stock going up than getting her picture on a magazine cover.

Catz’s reluctance to give public speeches and grant interviews has made her a mystery, even among some investors who have worked with her for years. Her veiled silence has created the impression that she is an intensely private person, and some observers have speculated that she is hiding a secret agenda.

The company’s shares have dropped more than 20 percent this year. They are a far cry from their highs of the 1990s when they were trading above $40 per share.

The technology giant is a leader in cloud computing and AI and is well positioned to take advantage of the industry’s growing demands for these services, investment firm Monness Crespi Hardt says. The firm is also working to reduce its dependence on hardware sales. It has been shifting its business to focus on selling software and cloud-based databases that are easy for customers to use and scale. The company has recently introduced new products and partnerships to support artificial intelligence. Analysts say those moves, combined with its robust customer pipeline, could help Oracle regain some lost ground in the second half of the year. They expect revenue to grow 18 percent to 20 percent and earnings excluding items, to rise 26 to 27 cents per share. That compares to forecasts of 23 to 24 cents per share, on average, for the quarter.

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