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Conway's golden handshake

PeopleSoft's ousted CEO walks away with a severance package in excess of $16 million.

Craig Conway, PeopleSoft's former CEO, has received a severance package in excess of $16 million, following his ouster earlier this month from the embattled software company.

Conway, who fought a hostile takeover battle with Oracle for 15 months, was terminated for allegedly being less than truthful on the effects the protracted proxy war was having on the company's sales.

In his severance package, Conway received $3.2 million in salary and bonuses, as well as accelerated payments on his restricted stock worth $13.3 million, based on PeopleSoft's current share price. He also received an additional sum for stock options that would have vested within the next two years, according a filing Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Previously, PeopleSoft had said Conway was expected to receive anywhere from $10 million to $20 million as part of his severance package. Excluding the options, Conway received $16.5 million.

Conway will receive his severance package in a lump sum rather than have it spread over the course of two years.

Even before receiving his severance package, Conway held a sizable stake in the company. The former CEO owned 5.1 million shares, or 1.41 percent, of the company, according to PeopleSoft's 2004 proxy. Based on the company's closing price of $20.49 on Monday, Conway's stake would be valued at $104.6 million.

During the past 15 months, Conway had waged a verbal and legal war with Oracle and his former boss, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, over the $7.7 billion hostile takeover bid.

Oracle last year launched the bid, which was challenged by the Department of Justice. In September, that challenge was nixed by a U.S. District Court judge.

The fight also spilled overseas, with the European Commission taking an in-depth look into the merger proposal. The Commission is expected to make its final decision on the matter before the end of this month, with many industry observers forecasting that regulators will let it go through.

That would leave the Delaware Chancery Court--where Oracle is fighting to remove PeopleSoft anti-takeover measures like its "poison pill" and to temper its customer assurance program--as one of the last battlegrounds in the protracted proxy war.