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Tom Siebel is stepping down as CEO of Siebel System, but he is holding tight the chairmanship of the company he founded.

His replacement is Mike Lawrie, head of sales and distribution at IBM. Lawrie's arrival has prompted a round of musical chairs to fill the vacuum created by his departure. Doug Elix, head of IBM global services, takes over Lawrie's role. He in turn is replaced by John Joyce, IBM's chief financial officer. Mark Laughridge is promoted from running global financing to CFO.

By separating the CEO and chairman roles, Siebel Systems may go some way to appeasing critics of its corporate governance standards. The customer relationship management (CRM) software vendor is the subject of a couple of Securities and Exchange Commission inquiries into its accounting policies.

In March this year, Siebel was hit with a class action, accusing it of artificially inflating its share price between October 1, 2001 and July 17, 2002. The complaint alleges that the company overstated customer acceptance of new product offerings, including Siebel 7 CRM, and published supposedly independent customer satisfaction surveys, which were conducted by an affiliate of the firm.

Last year, Siebel settled a suit brought by the Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL), over the firm's excessive generosity in granting shares to senior management. The settlement saw Siebel pay a fairly small fine of £900,000. More importantly, it agreed to improve board supervision in line with current thinking on corporate governance. ®

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