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Oracle exec makes Justice Department's point

In its 17-page lawsuit against Oracle, the Justice Department's lawyers try to hoist Oracle by its own petard--using the words of a company co-president.

In its 17-page lawsuit against Oracle on Thursday, the Justice Department's lawyers tried to hoist Oracle by its own petard--using the words of Charles Phillips, a company co-president.

The lawyers argued that in a market dominated by only three players, and they used the Phillips' own words to make their point.

The Justice Department observed: "For example, in 2002, when Charles Phillips, currently the co-president of Oracle, worked as an industry analyst for Morgan Stanley, he issued a report that stated: The back-office market for global companies is dominated by an oligopoly comprised of SAP, PeopleSoft and Oracle. The market is down to three viable suppliers who will help re-automate the back office business processes for global enterprises for years to come."

Oracle's management, which includes Phillips, argued just the opposite on Thursday. "The department's claim that there are only three vendors that meet the needs of large enterprise does not fit with the reality of the highly competitive, dynamic and rapidly changing market," Oracle said in a statement.

Phillips, 44, left the clubby world of Morgan Stanley last May to join Oracle's executive ranks--just before Oracle launched its hostile bid to acquire rival PeopleSoft. Since then, Phillips has emerged as one of CEO Larry Ellison's chief strategists. As co-president he reports directly to Ellison.

Hopping from a job as a Wall Street analyst to a president of a large corporation is unusual, but Oracle has never been conventional. At the time of Phillip's hire, Ellison observed that "Chuck's market perspective and strong relationships with CEOs, CFOs and CIOs across industries will be of enormous benefit to Oracle and our customers."

Analysts have enjoyed watching Phillips adjust to life on the other side, where he's now on the receiving end of their questions. "It creates an interesting opportunity to tease him," one analyst quipped last July when Phillips was grilled by Wall Street pros for the first time.

Now he'll no doubt be fielding more queries from his former colleagues.