SAP new CEOs shake off recession, trade war risk as Bill McDermott departs

SAP’s new chief executives told CNBC they do not see a slowdown in any of the regions they operate in and dismissed fears of a recession and the risks associated with the U.S.-China trade war.Board members Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein were appointed co-CEOs with immediate effect as the software giant announced Thursday that Bill McDermott was stepping down.In an interview with CNBC, both CEOs pointed to SAP’s third quarter numbers, which saw revenue up 13% year-on-year, to highlight the strength of the company.”First of all, when you look at our numbers … you will see a really decent growth across all geographies. SAP is doing really well both in North America as well as in Europe, and of course high growth also in Asia,” Klein said.”So we are also very confident also for the quarters to come. We see an extremely strong pipeline in all geographies and we don’t see any downturn in one of our geographies.”In response to a question about the effect of the trade war, Klein said he was not concerned and instead is “confident for the quarters to come.””We do a lot of business out of China for China, so we are really not only … now dependent on one country,” Klein said.’Strong succession plan’McDermott came to SAP in 2002 and was elevated to CEO in 2010. After nearly 10 years at the helm, he decided it was time to leave.”As he reflected, he thought about the timing, he thought about the strength of the company now, and rather than thinking about handing over the reins and kind of going through a transition at the beginning of the year — which is really our most busy and active time setting the strategy and getting the new year in motion — he felt now was the appropriate time to come out,” Morgan told CNBC.She added that there is a “strong succession plan in place” and McDermott worked “closely” with them to make it happen.McDermott got to help pick his successors, honoring a tradition of hiring from within at the 47-year-old German software company.SAP co-CEOs Christian Klein (L) and Jennifer Morgan (R) with former CEO Bill McDermott.Uwe Anspach | picture alliance | Getty ImagesUntil Thursday, Klein had been SAP’s chief operating officer, and Morgan was head of the company’s cloud business group.”We have a philosophy of grooming our own,” McDermott told CNBC. “We have a very interesting culture. You have to understand our company. You have to understand the dynamism of the global economy.”— CNBC’s Jordan Novet contributed to this report.

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