Baan US CEO resigns after seven months

Baan US CEO resigns after seven months

Baan said Mary Coleman has resigned as chairman and chief executive officer.

Not coincidentally, Baan is taking charges of roughly $US200 million, according to a company statement, and plans to close 14 branch offices and reduce its workforce by about 4 per cent in yet another company restructuring.

Analysts see the moves as another blow for the troubled software vendor, which many were convinced could be turned around by the well-regarded Coleman. She was the former head of Aurum Software, a maker of CRM (customer relationship management) software, that Baan acquired in 1997.

"She was the great white hope," said one market observer who knows the company, but asked not to be named. "She was a good manager who was going to transition Baan to a wider spectrum of products."

The current chairman of the Baan supervisory board, Pierre Everaert, will serve as interim CEO while the search for a permanent CEO of the business software maker is underway, Baan said in its statement.

Baan has incurred losses over the past five quarters, amid restructuring and a drop off in revenues for its core enterprise resource planning (ERP) business. But as recently as November, Coleman proclaimed at BaanWorld in Vienna that the company was back on track, in spite of predicted fourth-quarter losses. In October, Baan reported a net loss of $25 million, or 12 cents per share, as well as significantly lower year-on-year revenue for the third quarter ended September 30.

Baan shares fell sharply today in Europe before recovering during the afternoon in the US trading day. Baan shares on the NASDAQ fell more than 28 per cent to a low of $10.13 per share when the US market opened, well after news of Coleman's departure had been reported. The share price had begun to recover, however, by late in the afternoon on the US east coast.

Even without Coleman, it appears that Baan will continue in the direction that she indicated last month, with an emphasis on business-to-business electronic commerce. Baan has said it will build on its relationships with manufacturing companies to expand into that product area. It is unclear, however, how much attention Baan will pay to its traditional line of back-office software products.

However, another analyst doubts whether such moves will improve the situation for Baan.

"I don't think Baan has much of a chance of surviving," said Peter-Thilo Hasler, a software analyst with HypoVereinsbank AG in Munich. "The (current) management was not able to achieve anything, and I don't think new management will have it any easier."

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