Hasso Plattner will become chairman of the SAP Supervisory Board after the board meeting in May. Henning Kagermann will become sole CEO.
This move has been rumored for a long time; when Hasso did not
attend the most recent Sapphire, it became certain. So there is
no surprise whatsoever. SAP has risen 4.5% so far today, but presumably
this news is tangential to that rise.
Historically, Hasso has been more the technology guy and Henning
more the guy who was interested in returning value to the customer.
Almost certainly, there will be some shift in the company's focus
away from technology and toward providing business solutions as
a result of this move, but it will be minor. The company is still
at its core a German engineering company.
A former college professor, Henning comes off as extraordinarily
decent and even more extraordinarily intelligent. Former direct
reports and other people who know him well have nothing but praise
for him. Within the company, he has always been seen as somebody
who balances Hasso's somewhat mercurial temperament.
From all reports, Hasso has continued to interest himself in advanced
technologies and will certainly participate in these discussions
in the future. There are also other quite good and imaginative technology
people at the company who have been and will be influential.
It will be tempting for people to see the major consequence of
this move as a weakening of SAP's technological prowess, since Hasso
the visionary is no longer leading it. I think a more cogent worry
is that Henning will have difficulty pushing the company in the
directions that he (rightly, I think) wants it go. He has had this
difficulty in the past, and Hasso's departure, far from freeing
him up to do more of what he wants, will add to his workload.
So Says our European Correspondent
Our European Correspondent argues that the timing of the resignation
is actually a surprise, for the following reasons:
1. There was no word of a resignation at yesterday's CeBIT press
2. Apparently, the members of the supervisory board at SAP were
asked to convene at short notice (by German law, six weeks notice
is required unless all board members agree). The board may have
convened with as little as one day's notice.
3. Hasso's contract would have expired next year. The shareholder
meeting on May 9 would ordinarily have had on its agenda the question
of whether Hasso should join the supervisory board. There was thus
no reason for an immediate resignation.
For tea leave readers, there are even more factors to consider.
4. The long-time head of investor relations, Gundolf Moritz, left
SAP "in quite a hurry."
5. As readers of Short Takes know, there have been rumours about
financial problems (none of which we have been able to verify in
The EC also reminds us that a certain amount of potential entertainment
has been taken out of our lives. The Hasso-and-Larry episodes are,
alas, at an end.
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