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Baan chairman to step down

Jan Baan resigns as chairman of the management board of the business application software maker.

Jan Baan resigned today as chairman of the management board of business application software maker Baan.

His decision to step down marks the departure of the last Baan family member from the daily operations of the company, which Jan Baan and his brother Paul founded 20 years ago.

Paul Baan's role within the company has diminished during the past year. He now heads up the Baan brothers venture capital organization, Vanenburg Ventures. As part of today's shakeup, Paul Baan will be stepping down from the board of directors, effectively removing himself from any dealings with Baan.

In an internal memo to employees, Jan Baan said he is leaving to head up the family's charitable organization, Oikonomos Foundation.

"My parting time has come," Jan Baan told the employees. "I still feel like a builder, and Okinomos and Vanenburg Ventures offer me ample opportunity for this. As chairman, I say goodbye to the Baan Company without any concerns in my heart."

He is expected to continue to add his insight to the company as chairman of its supervisory board, the Dutch company's board of directors equivalent. Management boards are common in European organizations, and usually are comprised of board members involved in the daily operations of the company, like the chief executive, chief operating officer, and president.

Today's news is a continuation of top management shuffling at Baan during the past few months. Jan Baan removed himself from the day-to-day operations of the company earlier this month, turning over chief executive duties to then president Tom Tinsley. Tinsley already has assumed much of the responsibility for running the firm.

At the time of Jan Baan's resignation as CEO, Baan also took steps to clarify and separate the relationship between the software firm and Vanenburg Ventures. Vanenburg Ventures owns several resellers of Baan's products, and Wall Street analysts were concerned that the Baan Company could be bolstering quarterly numbers by selling products to itself using the venture firm's holdings. The Baan brothers still own about a third of Vanenburg Ventures.

Jan Baan said in his resignation from the chairmanship that his resignation from the management board was intended to further separate Baan from Vanenburg.

Jim Shepherd, analyst at Boston's AMR Research, said today's news is part of Baan's ongoing move to better position itself in the enterprise resource planning space. Since bringing Tinsley on board 18 months ago, the company has made a number of moves to give the American businessman more and more control over the company. The move also conveniently coincides with the release of Baan's earnings early Wednesday morning.

"They may be at a point where they are going to need to send a message to the financial community that this is the new Baan," Shepherd said. "Given the bad press they have taken about their financial situation, especially if the numbers are less than stunning for the quarter, then they can say, 'Jan took us to this point, now he is stepping up to chairman and Tom is stepping in.'"