Shai Agassi, president of SAP's Product and Technology Group, will leave the company by the end of this week.
Agassi often acted as the company's front figure in the US, where the company is engaged in a cut-throat battle for market share with Oracle. It is also common knowledge that Agassi aspired to become SAP's next chief executive.
His executive aspirations were frustrated when SAP's supervisory board decided last month to extend the term of current chief executive Henning Kagermann until 2009.
The extension was said to provide the company with more time to assess Agassi's technology vision. But the executive refused to wait, according to Hasso Plattner, SAP's founder and chairman of the supervisory board.
"I had shared with Shai my plan that he should become successor to Kagermann as a co-chief executive for SAP," said Plattner.
"With the extension of Henning's contract to 2009, it became apparent that Shai was not comfortable committing to a 10-15 year period which was not in keeping with his personal career timeline.
"Given this, I made the recommendation to the supervisory board that we change our plans and now adjust SAP's executive management team responsibilities."
Agassi's resignation clears the way for Léo Apotheker to ascend to the company's top position.
The SAP veteran of 19 years currently heads up the company's Global Customer Solutions and Operations group and has been appointed deputy chief executive.
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