SAP nabs Oracle executive to head US sales

SAP has hired a senior executive from rival business software vendor Oracle Corp. to head its sales effort, parent company SAP AG said last Friday.

John Nugent, a 17-year Oracle veteran, will start as executive vice president of sales for SAP America next week, SAP spokesman Markus Berner said. In Nugent's last job at Oracle, he oversaw sales for the eastern region of North America as senior vice president.

"We are pleased to announce the appointment of Nugent," said Berner, adding that SAP sees the enterprise software veteran as being "focused on customer success and driven by a passion to win." Berner would not say if Nugent was actively recruited by SAP.

Oracle spokesman Steve Walker confirmed Nugent's resignation. "He will be remembered for his enthusiasm and conviction," Walker said.

At SAP America, Nugent will report directly to William McDermott, chief executive officer since October last year. McDermott has been revamping the company's sales force.

Nugent's appointment will help SAP in the long run, but could disrupt sales in the short term, Patrick Walravens, managing director and senior research analyst at San Francisco investment bank JMP Securities LLC wrote in a research note published Thursday.

"Nugent is a good complement to McDermott, who has excellent relationships and vision, but does not have an extensive background in enterprise software sales," he wrote. However, as leadership changes "usually entail some degree of disruption to sales cycles," it could have a short term negative effect on SAP's sales, Walravens wrote.

For Oracle's sales, Nugent's departure should not have a significant effect, according to Walravens.

Both Oracle and SAP have been reorganizing their U.S. sales forces to adjust to a slower market. Oracle has been struggling with shrinking sales. The company saw only a small year-on-year revenue increase in its recently reported fiscal year 2003 third quarter, after a series of revenue declines in previous quarters.

SAP, in Walldorf, Germany, claims it is the biggest enterprise application vendor in the U.S., even though the vendor reported an 8 percent drop in full year revenue in the Americas for 2002.

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