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Former CA boss Kumar exits stage left

Break from the past

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Sanjay Kumar, Computer Associates' (CA) former boss, decided to leave the company on Friday. He hung around for just six weeks after stepping down as chief executive officer to become chief software architect. He stayed around just long enough to put in a reassuring appearance at last month's CA World conference in Las Vegas.

After four years at the top, Kumar was forced to step down as chairman and chief exec as an indirect consequence of a marathon investigation into the software vendor's finances. He was replaced by interim CEO Ken Cron.

A Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into financial irregularities at CA concluded with a threat to sue the company. Last year, CA's own audit committee concluded that the company had booked forward bookings as current revenue in a bid to inflate its results for fiscal 2000. CA says it has cleaned up its act, with the adoption of a new business model in October that year. The company settled with investors over the accountancy wheeze in August 2003.

Three former finance executives, including Ira Zar, CA's former chief financial officer, pleaded guilty to fraud or obstruction of justice charges in April. Investigations may result in further charges or earnings restatements by CA, the company says. Kumar is not accused of any wrongdoing but he has paid the price for misdeeds that occurred on his watch.

Kumar said: "It has become increasingly clear to me in the past few days that my continued role at CA is not helping the company's efforts to move forward. I understood that my stepping down as chairman and CEO represented a break with the past, but I have reluctantly concluded that as long as I hold any position, focus on past issues and my current role will continue.

"While I am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from customers, employees and shareholders, I believe my decision to leave at this time is the right one. It hopefully will permit CA to move forward."

CA chairman Lewis Ranieri said: "The Board wishes Sanjay and his family well. The Board is committed to reaching a settlement of the government's investigation into the Company's past accounting practices as quickly as possible. We are working hard to take the remedial steps necessary to put this entire matter behind CA. Sanjay's decision to leave CA was made in that spirit." ®

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