Apotheker resigns as SAP's chief executive

The business software maker announces the resignation, effective immediately, and the appointment of co-CEOs to replace Apotheker.

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The chief executive officer of SAP, Leo Apotheker, has resigned his post and from the company's board, after the board declined to extend his contract, the business software maker announced Sunday.

Leo Apotheker, SAP's former chief executive officer. Dan Farber/CNET

The resignation, which was reportedly by mutual decision, is effective immediately.

To replace Apotheker, the SAP's board has appointed co-CEOs: Bill McDermott, head of field organization, and Jim Hagemann Snabe, head of product development.

"The new setup of the SAP executive board will allow SAP to better align product innovation with customer needs," SAP Chairman Hasso Plattner said in a statement. "The new leadership team will continue to drive forward SAP's strategy and focus on profitable growth, and will deliver its innovations in 2010 to expand SAP's leadership of the business software market."

Stung by lower sales and earnings, SAP actually beat expectations in the final quarter of 2009. The company in January reported sales of 10.67 billion euros ($14.9 billion), 8 percent lower than the 11.56 billion euros from 2008.

Despite the downturn, overall fourth-quarter sales and especially those from software-related services beat estimates from both the company and analysts. Operating margins for the full year also were better than expected. SAP attributed the improvement in part to cost cuts and layoffs it had announced earlier in the year.

Apotheker was appointed co-chief executive in 2008, serving with then-current CEO Henning Kagermann. He took over the role of CEO in 2009 after 19 years with the company.