March 13, 2001, 1:08 PM — SAP AG last week confirmed that the president of its U.S.-based subsidiary has resigned, although the German software vendor didn't disclose any specific details surrounding his departure.
A spokesman for SAP America Inc. in Newtown Square, Pa., said Chris Larsen, who had been president of that unit since late 1999, resigned "to pursue other opportunities."
SAP America CEO Wolfgang Kemna is assuming Larsen's duties, the spokesman said, adding that SAP users shouldn't notice any difference in their dealings with the company during the transition.
Larsen is the latest in a string of high-level executives who have left SAP America within the past few years. For example, former CEO Kevin McKay resigned from the subsidiary last spring and eventually took a job at Mercator Software Inc. in Wilton, Conn.
After Larsen became president, SAP America launched a major reorganization of its sales and service operations in what he said was an attempt to make them more "proactive" in dealing with users.
Larsen also oversaw the U.S. rollout of SAP's mySAP.com suite of Web-enabled applications.
Bruce Richardson, an analyst at Boston-based AMR Research Inc., said Larsen's exit wasn't particularly surprising. SAP wanted a German executive to run SAP America and tapped Larsen as president primarily as a gap-filling move, Richardson said. "They needed someone to stabilize the sales force," he added. "Once that happened, they didn't need a co-president [anymore]."
But Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting in Daly City, Calif., said Larsen's departure could be unsettling to some of SAP's users. "This is a time when SAP needs to be firmly in control and show a unified front, and it would be better not to lose this kind of senior person," Greenbaum said.
He added, though, that Kemna still gives SAP America a strong upper-management presence. And SAP seems to be doing well, from an overall U.S. sales perspective, according to Greenbaum. "This does not indicate some inner rot at the core of the company," he said.