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Thứ Ba, 23 tháng 7, 2013

McDermott to become SAP's sole CEO -

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Newtown Square-based Bill McDermott will become the sole chief executive officer of SAP A.G., ending an unusual power-sharing arrangement at the German-based multinational business-software maker.

Jim Hagemann Snabe, who had shared the top post with McDermott since 2010, has asked to step down by next May's shareholders meeting, three years before his contract expires, so he can spend more time with his family in Denmark, he told investors and reporters in a conference call Monday.

Hasso Plattner, the company's cofounder, largest shareholder, and supervisory-board chairman, said SAP needed two closely aligned CEOs to lead "radical change" over the last few years. But, he said, he would not take the "risk" of trying it again without two candidates he knew could trust each other as completely as McDermott and Snabe, who is to join the company's supervisory board.

Currently, Snabe leads SAP's software development. McDermott, 52, a former head of sales at Xerox who joined the company in 2002, leads SAP's marketing and sales, traveling between its glass-walled Americas headquarters in Newtown Square, which employs 2,500, and other SAP posts worldwide.

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But the two plotted strategy together, including a string of multibillion-dollar acquisitions.

"Bill is a very, very strong technologist," highly familiar with corporate software needs, who has developed the capacity to run the whole company and outmanage its competitors, Snabe said.

Despite weak recent sales for the largest business-software companies - compared with the rapid growth of the 1990s and early 2000s - SAP shares are up 68 percent, or 18.5 percent a year, since Snabe and McDermott replaced Leo Apotheker in the chief-executive slot in early 2010. During the same period, rival Oracle is up 38 percent, or 10.7 percent a year. IBM is up 60 percent, or 16.6 percent a year.

McDermott's explanation: "We stayed focused on business software; others didn't." SAP shares fell 0.6 percent to close at $72.39 Monday.

Under the Snabe-McDermott partnership, SAP reversed its policy of avoiding acquisitions and signed a series of deals to add database and cloud-computing services that would help it cope with low-cost competition.

McDermott praised rising SAP executives, including Vishal Sikka, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based manager in charge of developing software.

McDermott gave no sign he plans to share the job and said he hoped to stay at SAP past his 2017 contract expiration. He denied what he called recurring rumors that he is interested in political office: "We can take that completely off the table."

He sought to quiet German fears that his appointment makes SAP less European: "I am an American, I was born in the United States. But SAP is a truly global software company. It's neither German nor American nor Chinese," with 46 percent of its workforce in Europe and nearby countries, 30 percent in the Americas, and 24 percent in Asia.

Plattner added that the new chief financial officer, Luka Mucic, is a European based at SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany.

McDermott travels extensively but said he tried to be home on the Main Line every weekend when his children were in school. As they have moved through college, he said, "we're almost empty-nesters" who can spend weekends traveling in SAP's world.

He also promised he would work harder to learn German.

Contact Joseph N. DiStefano at 215.854.5194,, @PhillyJoeD

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