SAP Co-CEO Snabe To Step Down, Leaving McDermott In Charge

Snabe, who has been with SAP for more than 20 years, also will give up his seat on SAP's executive board, taking instead a seat on the company's supervisory board, SAP said Sunday. The changes will be effective after the company's next shareholder meeting in May.

The announcement followed a Sunday meeting of the supervisory board, which is essentially the company's board of directors.

Snabe, in a company statement, said only that he had "decided that it is time to begin the next phase of my career, closer to my family." Snabe lives with his family in Copenhagen.

"The last three years, the partnership with [McDermott], have, by far, been the most exciting of my career," Snabe said in a phone conference with press and analysts Monday. Anticipating questions of why he would step down now, he said: "I believe that [with] a change like this, you need to make it at a moment of strength."

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On the call, Hasso Plattner, SAP co-founder and chairman of the supervisory board, said, "Jim came to me to resign from his role as co-CEO in the near future and I couldn't convince him to change his mind." Plattner added that Snabe had told him at the time of his appointment that he would plan to lead for about four years.

SAP has generally reported strong growth in sales and earnings in the past three years, although software sales have slowed somewhat this year largely due to slower sales in the Asia-Pacific region. In recent years the company has expanded its channel sales, which now account for nearly 40 percent of sales.

The current co-CEO management team of McDermott and Snabe was established in February 2010 after then-CEO Leo Apotheker resigned after less than a year in the job.

Alex Rooney, a vice president with Vision33, an SAP Gold partner, said he's comfortable with the changes at the company. "I always felt there can only be one boss in any organization," he said in an email. He called McDermott "sales-driven" and "committed to the channel."

SAP reorganized its research and development operations in May, consolidating them under Vishal Sikka, SAP's head of technology and innovation and a member of the company's executive board. Snabe, in responding to a question on Monday's conference call as to whether that reorganization left him with less authority, said that was not the case and that it had "absolutely nothing to do with my decision."