SAP’s co-CEO, Jennifer Morgan, is stepping down from her role at the of the German software giant on April 30. Going forward, Christian Klein will be the sole CEO.
Klein and Morgan were co-CEOs following the departure of longtime chief executive Bill McDermott, who announced he was leaving the company in October 2019.
SAP said returning to a single chief executive was in response to the ‘unprecedented’ crisis posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was made earlier than planned “to secure strong and clear leadership responsibility in this unprecedented crisis.”
“Jen and I really started with a joint agenda,” Klein told reporters in a conference call. “The reason we decided to come back to a sole CEO model was because of the outbreak of the pandemic. There was no exact date to when SAP would have come back to a sole CEO model but in these turbulent times we thought now was the right time.”
Morgan joined SAP in 2004. She was president of the cloud business before becoming co-CEO and was the first American woman on the company’s executive board.
“The market has never really appreciated the co-CEO structure, though we believe SAP will lose a dedicated cloud salesperson with Jennifer,” Commerzbank analyst Florian Treisch said in a note.
The company’s co-founder and chairman, Hasso Platner, in a statement to the company’s staff, said, “I have always believed that co-CEO models have their place and their time, after all I was a co-CEO once. But this has turned out to not be that time.”
“For the benefit of our company and our customers, we felt it was crucial to have one sole CEO navigate us through this unprecedented change,” Plattner said.
SAP also said it would not conduct share buybacks this year after completing a $1.6 billion buyback program. It reaffirmed its goal of expanding profit margins by one percent per year through 2023.