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Charles Wang, the Chinese immigrant who built one of the biggest and most controversial software companies in the world over the last 25 years, announced his immediate retirement from

Computer Associates

(CA) - Get CA, Inc. Report


Wang, 58, will be succeeded as chairman by the company's president, Sanjay Kumar, and retain the honorific title of chairman emeritus. He will also leave the CA board.

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"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," Wang said. "It is very gratifying to have completed this important step successfully by grooming and recommending my successor."

Wang, who was born in Shanghai in 1944 and emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 8, founded Computer Associates with three associates in 1976 in New York City. Kumar, 40, joined CA in 1987 and has served as its president and chief executive since August 2000.

The company has been at the center of controversy for the last few years. Its accounting is being probed by the

Securities and Exchange Commission

and it came under fire earlier this year for making a $10 million payment to an investor group threatening a proxy fight.

The shares closed at $15.12 on Friday, well off their 52-week high of $38.74.