Tom Siebel to sell company shares

Siebel Systems founder Tom Siebel plans to sell up to 18 percent of his company stock over the next two years, the company said yesterday.

He has adopted a trading plan to cover the gradual sale of up to 10 million shares of stock, including some that will be acquired through the exercise of stock options set to expire in March 2006, the company said. If Siebel completes all of his planned sales, he'll be left with 45 million company shares and vested options, representing around a 9 percent ownership stake in the company.

Siebel Systems cast the stock sell off as part of its founder's asset diversification strategy. Tom Siebel expects to begin selling his shares no earlier than February 2005, and will disclose the sales through filings required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Financial analyst Donovan Gow cast the planned share sales as routine. Other tech titans, including Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, have sold stock under similar diversification plans.

"It's sizable, but given that he has been pulling back from his leadership role in the last several months, I don't think it's totally unexpected," Gow said of Siebel. Gow is with American Technology Research.

Siebel's eponymous creator stepped down earlier this year as chief executive officer of the company he had lead since its inception in 1993. Siebel, 51, remains the company's chairman.

Siebel shares ended trading Monday on the Nasdaq exchange at US$9.44. In its most recent report on the 400 richest Americas, Forbes magazine estimated Tom Siebel's personal net worth at US$1.2 billion.

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