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SAP CEO eased out; market ponders firm's strategy

By Reuters

SAP has shouldered aside its CEO of just seven months, surprising a market he failed to win over during his tenure and leaving investors wondering where the world's top business software company heads next.

SAP announced Leo Apotheker's abrupt departure late on Sunday, replacing him with immediate effect with a new management team expected to inject a clearer sense of direction at the helm. "This step comes as an absolute surprise," DZ Bank analyst Oliver Finger told clients in a research note. "[It] should increase short-term uncertainty about SAP's future strategy" and hit the firm's shares.

SAP said it was returning to its traditions of split leadership with Bill McDermott, head of the field organisation, and Jim Hagemann Snabe, product development chief, both already members of the SAP executive board, taking the helm.

McDermott, who is based at SAP's US headquarters in Pennsylvania, played a lead role in sharply raising SAP's share of the key North American market. Snabe, a Dane, is a trained mathematician in charge of rolling out SAP's Business ByDesign software suite after several missteps and delays. SAP said Apotheker's departure was by mutual consent and did not elaborate on why he had been eased out.


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