Rift Over Co-CEO Caused Agassi to Leave SAP

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2007-03-28 Print this article Print

His departure had nothing to do with the Oracle lawsuit or SAP's bumpy financials, officials said.

Shai Agassi is leaving SAP AG to tackle climate and energy issues in Israel and not as a result of Oracle's recent lawsuit against SAP, or SAP's two missed quarters in fiscal 2006, according to SAP's chairman, Hasso Plattner.

Rather, according to Plattner, Agassi's departure stems more from the fact that SAP's board extended Henning Kagermann's CEO contract to 2009, leaving Agassi in the lesser position of president of the Product and Technology Group for another two years.

"What happened is I shared my plan with Shai that he should become co-CEO with Apotheker," said Plattner during an impromptu press conference March 28.

"When I asked Henning [Kagermann, SAP's CEO] if he could stay until mid-2009—we will launch a new product—Henning agreed. It became apparent to Shai that he was not comfortable committing a long-term, 10- or 15-year period to SAP and responded that I should not consider him for the co-CEO or CEO position."

Plattner said after Agassi's response to Kagermann's contract extension, it was Plattner's turn to respond.

To read more about the Oracle lawsuit, click here.

"It became clear to me that when a 120-percent person is not committed in long terms, we should make short-term changes, because it would release energies in others."

Under SAP's bylaws, Kagermann's contract would have expired this summer on his 60th birthday, to be extended on a yearly basis.

Agassi and Leo Apotheker, president of SAP's Global Customer Solutions & Operations, were front runners for the top spot at SAP.

And from the look of today's announcements—Apotheker was named deputy CEO, alongside Kagermann—the board was clearly considering a co-leadership role between Agassi and Kagermann. SAP executives stressed that it was this rift that led Agassi to give up his coveted role at SAP—and not the explosive legal claim brought by Oracle last week that alleges theft on a grand scale by TomorrowNow, SAP's subsidiary that provides third-party support for Oracle's applications.

"This has nothing to do whatsoever with Oracle," said Kagermann. "The proof is this meeting, which was issued before Oracle launched its broad attack."

When asked about his thoughts as to whether Agassi would have been named to the top spot should his contract not been renewed, Kagermann responded strongly. "I will not be pushed by anyone inside our outside of SAP to make comments about public positions," he said. "That's it. Period."

Whatever the reasons behind Agassi's resignation—the reasons not outlined in a press release—SAP is clearly under pressure. Oracle's lawsuit, whether specious or not, is shedding a negative light on the company in what has been a tough year on the financial front.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Rift Over Co-CEO Caused Agassi to Leave SAP


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