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SAP announces more changes to leadership structure

Warwick Ashford

SAP has announced further changes to the company's leadership structure following the departure of Léo Apotheker and his replacement by two joint CEOs.

SAP said Gerhard Oswald, executive board member responsible for SAP Global Service, is to also take on the role of chief operating officer. Oswald, described by analysts as "a strong internal player", replaces Erwin Gunst, who has been ill for some time and is stepping down for health reasons.

SAP also named Peter Lorenz, executive vice-president of small and midsize enterprises, as a corporate officer.

The company said the changes were in support of the appointment of co-CEOs Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott following Apotheker's departure.

Peter Lorenz will become one of about half a dozen people who make up an extended board that supports the main board, said Thomas Otter, analyst at research firm Gartner.

"Naming Lorenz as a corporate officer is good news for small and midsize companies because it will help boost SAP's Business ByDesign product set for that market," he said.

SAP also announced the resignation of John Schwartz, member of the executive board responsible for SAP BusinessObjects.

Schwartz's departure will be a blow to SAP in losing his expertise, but the move was not unexpected because it was difficult to say what his future role would be, said Otter.

"Given his previous experience as CEO of BusinessObjects before it was acquired by SAP, Schwartz may have felt he was next in line for the top job at SAP," he said.

Hasso Plattner, chairman of the SAP supervisory board, said, "We regret John Schwartz has decided to leave the company. He has been instrumental in achieving the successful integration of BusinessObjects into SAP in record time."

The leadership shake-up at SAP has followed the supervisory board's decision not renew Apotheker's contract.

According to analysts, the supervisory board has recognised the need for change at SAP amid dwindling employee and customer confidence in company leadership. The restructure is aimed at shoring up SAP's technical vision to bring clarity to its innovation roadmap and restore balance between sales and product divisions.


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