SAP says unable to assess financial crisis fallout

BERLIN Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:46am EDT

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BERLIN Oct 14 (Reuters) - SAP (SAPG.DE) was unable to assess to what extent the financial crisis would affect its business because the turmoil was unprecedented, Co-Chief Executive Officer Leo Apotheker said on Tuesday.

"We do not know how long the crisis will last and how hard it will hit our industry," he said at a conference in Berlin.

"This was unforeseeable. It surprised us all," he said.

But he said SAP's business model had remained solid and entirely healthy.

SAP -- the world's biggest maker of software that medium-sized and large companies use to run their businesses -- said on Oct. 6 that its sales abruptly dropped off in the last two weeks of September as companies cut spending on business software.

The news prompted SAP shares to plunge, but they have since recouped some of their losses. The stock was up 5.3 percent at 28.94 euros by 1136 GMT, having advanced 9.2 percent over the past week.

"We have seen a complete overreaction in the stock market," Apotheker said of the initial drop.

In response to the sales decline, SAP has stopped hiring and has imposed travel restrictions on staff, which Apotheker said was a precautionary measure. SAP was also in talks with its works council to shut down its business for the week between Christmas and New Year, he said.

But Apotheker said these steps had not had an impact on investments earmarked for projects in countries including Russia. (Reporting by Markus Wacket, writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Paul Bolding)

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