Wang steps down at Computer Associates

Computer Associates founder Charles Wang is retiring as company chairman and handing his mantle to CA president and chief...

Computer Associates founder Charles Wang is retiring as company chairman and handing his mantle to CA president and chief executive officer Sanjay Kumar.

Wang's retirement, announced yesterday (18 November), comes after more than 25 years with the company and takes immediate effect. He will, however, take the honorary position as chairman emeritus of the board.

Kumar, 40, joined CA in 1987 and has served as president and CEO since August 2000.

CA customers should not expect any drastic change in product or corporate strategy as a result of Wang's departure because Wang, who founded CA with three associates in 1976, has been transferring control to Kumar for the past two years according to Paul Mason, vice-president of infrastructure software research analysts IDC.

"I don't expect to see any significant change, because the strategy we've seen [in recent years] is Sanjay's strategy," Mason said.

Gartner analyst Betsy Burton agreed. "I don't see any major shift or change for the organisation as a result of this retirement. He has been slowly moving out of the company for several years. Everyone in the market has been expecting this for some time," Burton said.

IDC's Mason said CA has held its own in the past two years. Now, he added, it needs to upgrade its flagship Unicenter systems management platform and move into portal technology, software development and data and application integration.

In a brief note published on Monday (18 November), Gartner's Burton wrote: "Senior management understands the need to focus on customer relations and marketing. But it has yet to drive a vision that uses a marketing focus and growth strategy to counteract the revenue inertia from its customer base."

Since February, CA has been co-operating with a joint investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Justice into some of the company's accounting practices.

Neither analyst saw a link between Wang's decision to retire and these inquiries and a CA spokesman denied any link.

In September, an appeals court ruled that CA had to pay at least $10.3m (£6.5m) to a group of shareholders because of violations committed during its 1991 acquisition of On-Line Software International.

CA violated the "best price rule" in its buyout of On-Line by paying more for the stock of On-Line chairman and chief executive officer Jack Berdy than it did for the stock of other shareholders, the court ruled.

Last year, CA faced an acrimonious proxy battle led by disgruntled investor Sam Wyly, the founder of Ranger Governance. Wyly failed to unseat CA's top executives, including Wang, but earlier this year CA reached a £7.1m deal with the dissident shareholder to drop his bid for five seats on the board.

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