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End of an era at CA

Following months of speculation, Charles Wang this week retired from his position as chairman of the board of Computer Associates (CA) International Inc., Islandia, N.Y.

CA immediately named CEO Sanjay Kumar to succeed the retiring Wang, who co-founded the company in 1976 and led it on a two-decade acquisition spree that made CA one of the world's largest software companies. The Board named Wang to the honorary, non-voting position of Chairman Emeritus.

''I am pleased to have completed the transition of leadership to Sanjay, who has been a trusted colleague and a valuable partner, in a smooth and orderly way,'' said Mr. Wang.  ''It is very gratifying to have completed this important step successfully by grooming and recommending my successor,'' Wang said in a statement.

Charles Wang led CA over the course of 25 years to become one of the largest software companies in history. In 1989, CA became the first independent software company to reach $1 billion in annual sales. The company focused on software found in large corporate IT centers.

Much of CA's growth was obtained through a series of dramatic mergers that marked Wang as an especially aggressive competitor. Wang and company made a specialty out of identifying companies with well-established niche product revenues, and quickly cutting corporate overhead of companies once they were acquired. Capex Software, Legent, Sterling Software, Software International, Platinum Technologies and Cheyenne were just some of the acquisition targets. The acquisition of Uccel Corp. in 1987 brought Kumar into the fold.

Some observers peg Wang's departure as the end of an era. CA's long string of mergers peaked in 1999 with the purchase of Platinum, and in 2000 with the purchase of Sterling. Changes in accounting rules, depression of stock prices and a paucity of apt targets were widely cited as reasons for the end of the buying spree.

A series of stockholder suits followed the purchase of Sterling. The suits included criticisms of CA's customer relations and Wang's corporate governance. Much criticism centered on an executive compensation plan that tied common stock performance goals to a near $1-billion payday shared by Wang, Kumar and another company officer.

Kumar has served as CA president and CEO since August 2000.

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.

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