updated 3/17/2004 7:56:08 PM ET 2004-03-18T00:56:08

Software billionaire Larry Ellison has given his new bride a pricey gift -- 911,744 shares of his company's stock.

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Ellison, chief executive of software giant Oracle Corp., gave the shares to his fourth wife, novelist Melanie Craft, on March 1, according to a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The shares were worth $11.9 million when Ellison parted with them. Oracle's stock has since declined by 9 percent, reducing the value of Craft's holdings to $10.8 million Wednesday, based on Oracle's closing price of $11.85 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Craft, 34, married Ellison, 59, three months ago in a small ceremony at the billionaire's 45-acre Japanese-style estate in Woodside, Calif., south of San Francisco.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment on Ellison's gift.

Craft wrote two books, "A Hard-Hearted Man" and "Trust Me," before her recent marriage to Ellison. Her upcoming book, "Man Trouble" is a story about a romance novelist trying to woo a rich businessman.

Ellison, whose estimated $18.7 billion fortune ranked him as the world's 12th richest person in Forbes magazine's most recent survey, also made some money by liquidating a sliver of his 26 percent stake in Oracle.

He realized a $9.9 million gain by exercising 1 million stock options at $1.69 per share and selling the stock Tuesday at prices ranging between $11.38 and $11.87 per share, according to Wednesday's SEC documents.

The stock sale is part of a divestiture program that Ellison set up in January. Under the plan, Ellison may sell up to 120 million of his shares and give an additional 3.3 million shares to his medical foundation. Even if he divests that many shares, Ellison would still own nearly 1.3 billion Oracle shares.

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