SAP CEO sees limited impact from Iraq war

Germany's SAP expects a war in Iraq would hurt business for one or two quarters but should not affect results for the whole year,...

Germany's SAP expects a war in Iraq would hurt business for one or two quarters but should not affect results for the whole year, the software giant's co-head told a newspaper on Monday.

"We have been assuming that the negative impact would be limited to one or at the most two quarters," co-Chief Executive Henning Kagermann told business daily Handelsblatt.

"We would perhaps have a worse quarter but the full year would not be affected," he said.

SAP has abandoned its full-year sales forecast for 2003, citing uncertain market conditions, but said in January it expected to improve its profit margins and increase its market share as clients choose systems from big, established suppliers.

Kagermann said SAP would continue the cost-cutting programme that helped it beat analysts' forecasts for 2002 results but would at some point reach the limits of useful cost savings.

"We will have to very pay close attention to see that we do not miss chances by exaggerated and mistaken savings," he said. "Once we are convinced that things are moving up, we will invest again," he said.

He sidestepped speculation about the possibility that his counterpart Hasso Plattner may step down before the end of his contract in 2004, saying the board had been refreshed by the recent appointments of Leo Apotheker as sales head and Shai Agassi in technology.

"Once one approaches the age of 60, every manager thinks about how much longer their period in office will last. That's a normal process and everything else is speculation," he said.

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