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5/24/2002
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SAP Shuffles, Hopes To End U.S. Slide

The company puts its top salesman in the world in charge of all sales globally and appoints him acting head of the North American region.

SAP says it needs a powerful leader in charge when the economy gets better and software starts selling again. So it's putting its top salesman in the world in charge of all sales globally and appointing him as the acting head of the North American region of SAP to help whip that operation into shape.

Leo Apotheker, president for one of SAP's most profitable regions--Europe, the Middle East, and Africa--has been appointed president for global field operations and will temporarily fill the slot left open by the departure of SAP America Inc.'s Wolfgang Kemna. Under Apotheker, SAP license revenue grew slightly in its first quarter in Europe, but fell nearly 30% in the United States. "Apotheker is a real star, and they need sales execution in the U.S. more than anything else," says Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting. SAP says he's the man to do it.

Kemna, appointed president and CEO of SAP America in April 2000, was named executive VP of global initiatives and will return to Germany, where he'll leverage his seat on the SAP board to oversee the global development of supply-chain and customer-relationship management software, two of the company's hottest new products. Greenbaum says Kemna's most difficult task will be to find a way to prove SAP's claims that its CRM and supply-chain technology is the market leader.

Both Apotheker and Kemna will report to co-chairman and co-CEO Henning Kagermann. Kagermann previously oversaw SAP's global sales effort. Greenbaum says Apotheker's appointment as head of all sales will relieve Kagermann of many of those responsibilities so he can focus less on the day-to-day business of running SAP and more on the company's future direction.

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