Company News

TIMELINE-Abrupt CEO exit shifts focus to SAP's strategy

Feb 8 (Reuters) - The abrupt resignation of SAP AG's SAPG.DE chief executive Leo Apotheker put pressure on the group's stock on Monday as the market sought clarity on where the world's largest business-software company is headed.

Here is a timeline of key events at SAP:

1972 - Five former IBM employees - Dietmar Hopp, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, Klaus Tschira, and Claus Wellenreuther - launch Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing (SAP) in Mannheim, Germany.

Aug. 1988 - SAP GmbH becomes SAP.

Nov. 1988 - Lists 1.2 million shares on the Frankfurt and Stuttgart stock exchanges.

1997 - Henning Kagermann becomes Co-Chairman and CEO of SAP AG with Hasso Plattner.

1998 - The letters S-A-P appear for the first time on the Big Board at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

May 2003 - Henning Kagermann becomes the company’s sole chief executive as Hasso Plattner, co-chief executive and the last of the group’s founding members, steps down from active management to head its supervisory board.

June 2004 - Microsoft Corp. discloses that it held talks with SAP in 2003 about a potential merger but broke them off.

March 2005 - Dietmar Hopp, founder and former CEO, resigns from the supervisory board in May. Hopp held the post of CEO from 1988 to 1998, partly together with Hasso Plattner.

March 2007 - Oracle Corp. ORCL.O sues SAP for "corporate theft on a grand scale", claiming that SAP's business unit in Texas, TomorrowNow, illegally used customer log-ins to steal copyrighted materials from Oracle's password-protected Web site.

-- SAP’s head of software products, Shai Agassi, resigns because as he was unwilling to wait to become the next CEO after the company extended Kagermann’s contract until 2009.

Sept. 2007 - After three years of development, SAP introduces a Web-hosted business-management software aimed at customers with 100 to 500 employees.

-- Known as Business By Design, it is to run on SAP’s own servers and be accessible over the Internet for around $54 a month. In early 2009 SAP denied media reports that the software was struggling and might not be launched.

June 2007 - Oracle Corp. lodges new charges against SAP saying TomorrowNow copied Oracle’s solution to make sure computer programmes worked following a recent early switch to daylight savings time and then posted the fix as its own.

July 2007 - SAP discloses that its U.S. subsidiary made “inappropriate downloads” of data from Oracle Corp’s Web site and apologized for the misconduct.

Jan. 2008 - SAP acquires French software developer Business Objects for 4.8 billion euros ($7.1 billion).

April 2008 - Promotes Deputy Chief Executive Leo Apotheker to joint CEO and says he would succeed Henning Kagermann as sole CEO the following year.

July 2008 - Says will wind down the operations of TomorrowNow, the focus of the lawsuit lodged by Oracle Corp.

-- Oracle Corp amends its lawsuit against SAP accusing four SAP board members, including current co-ceo Kagermann, of receiving a confidential document on Jan. 7, 2005, that “made clear TomorrowNow did not operate legally”.

Sept. 15, 2009 - SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner plans to sell shares in the German software company worth up to 240 million euros by the end of 2010.

Oct. 28 - Lowers its 2009 sales outlook and says it expects software and software-related sales to decline by between 6 percent and 8 percent.

Nov. 17 - Chief Executive Leo Apotheker says the delayed Business by Design software will be launched in 2010.

Feb. 7, 2010 - Apotheker ,in a surprise move, steps down with immediate effect amid customer dissatisfaction and what some analysts perceive as a lack of company strategy.

Feb. 8 - Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe are appointed co-chief executives of SAP.

Sources: Reuters; SAP ( (Writing by Carl Bagh, Editorial Reference Unit, Bangalore; Editing by David Cutler, John Stonestreet)