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SAP Co-CEO, Founder Stepping Down

Hasso Plattner, the colorful co-CEO and a co-founder of German business software giant SAP is stepping aside from day-to-day management.

The 59-year Plattner is to head up SAP's supervisory board as part of a change in corporate governance that will leave current co-CEO, Henning Kagermann, at the helm after the company's May 9th annual shareholder meeting.

The change marks a turning point for the company as one of its four founders -- former IBM execs -- leaves the company after helping to launch it 30 years ago.

Part of their reasons for change, SAP said, is to ensure that, in SAP's fast changing industry, up-to-date technology and solution know-how is better represented on the supervisory board, whose mission includes engaging in developing future strategy for the company's business development.

During the late 1990s, SAP faced criticism that it wasn't moving quickly enough to adopt and roll out IP-based business software. Since then, however, SAP has practically become synonymous with enterprise resource planning, providing software for thousands of businesses around the globe and finding success with its SAPHosting services in the ASP sector.

In addition to rivals such as Oracle and Seibel Systems, Microsoft and HP are aiming to chip away at SAP's position as the third-largest software maker and one of the largest providers of enterprise products as they all roll out a new generation of Web Services software and on-demand utility applications.

SAP claims to be the world's largest "inter-enterprise software company," based mainly on sales of its flagship mySAP.com enterprise software, successor to the R3 ERP product. The company is also the third-largest independent software supplier overall in the world.

It has also moved to embrace the open-standard movement, such as its move to adopt support of Microsoft's .NET framework through its own mySAP Technology. The open-standard-based infrastructure enables interoperability by opening up its Web services architecture with native support for open technical and business standards.