SAP AG shouldered aside its CEO of just seven months, surprising a market he failed to win over during his tenure and leaving investors wondering where the world's top business software firm heads next.
SAP announced Leo Apotheker’s abrupt departure late on Sunday, replacing him with immediate effect with a new management team expected to inject a clearer sense of direction at the helm.
"This step comes as an absolute surprise," DZ Bank analyst Oliver Finger told clients in a research note. "(It) should increase short-term uncertainty about SAP's future strategy" and hit the firm's shares.
SAP shares showed a loss of 1.63 per cent to 32.84 euros in midday trading on the Frankfurt stock exchange; the DAX index was 0.73 per cent up overall.
SAP said it was splitting leadership with Bill McDermott, head of the field organisation, and Jim Hagemann Snabe, product development chief, both members of the SAP executive board, taking the helm.
McDermott played a lead role in sharply raising SAP's share of the key North American market. Snabe is a trained mathematician in charge of rolling out SAP's Business ByDesign software suite.