Article

Lawrie out as Siebel CEO

Barney Beal

Mike Lawrie, the man who promised to lead Siebel Systems Inc. into Chapter 2 of its evolution, stepped down as CEO today.

Lawrie, who took over the San Mateo, Calif.-based company from its founder last May, will be replaced by George T. Shaheen, a member of the board of directors since 1995.

The announcement comes on the heels of a disappointing earnings forecast for the last quarter. Siebel stocks fell after the company forecasted first quarter revenue of $297 million to $300 million, well below its outlook of $325 million to $345 million. In a conference call with investors, Lawrie blamed the shortfall on several deals being delayed until the next quarter. Lawrie also accepted responsibility, claiming poor execution by management.

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Shaheen was the former CEO of Andersen Consulting, now Accenture, leading that company for 10 years. Tom Siebel, chairman o the board of directors, will remain chair as Shaheen takes over as director of the company.

Having the company's founder remaining on as chairman of the board, likely had an effect on Lawrie's brief tenure, said Chris Selland principal analyst at Boston-based Covington Associates.

"I would think quite a bit," Selland said. "Tom's still got a heck of a lot of influence on what goes on inside the company. Shaheen's obviously a guy Tom knows. His background is much more in consulting and services than running software companies but it seems to make sense. They had a horrible quarter."

Shaheen got a boost from Tom Siebel in a conference call with financial analysts Wednesday.

"In George Shaheen, the board has identified the perfect head for this company," Siebel said. "He's proven, has a tried tested track record of delivering results and meeting or exceeding expectations. It would be hard to imagine someone more qualified than George to lead the company forward."

Shaheen promised to pursue the market for front office business applications, which he said can reach $100 billion per year.

Lawrie came to Siebel from IBM where he was senior vice president and group executive for sales and distribution, leading the company's global operations. Lawrie also steered IBM through its own implementation of Siebel, one of the largest in the world.

The move also invites speculation of a potential acquisition of Siebel.

"I would view this as making it more likely rather than less likely that Siebel would be acquired in the future," said Scott Nelson, vice president and distinguished analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

Shaheen's appointment also demonstrates that the board of directors was more concerned with short-term results, Nelson said. Lawrie's decisions apparently weren't affecting change fast enough for the board.

"This is going to disrupt their development plans to some degree," Nelson said. "Lawrie made some decisions about development and Sheehan is going to reevaluate that. We're telling clients there will be some disruption. If purchases are contingent on versions coming in the future, time frames should be pushed out."

Siebel was up to $8.99 per share in premarket activity, up two cents.


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