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LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Usually executives at investment confabs like the

Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium

get to kick off their presentations by highlighting recent good news or happy projections.

Wolfgang Kemna, who heads


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U.S. unit, had to do a little damage control on the unexpected departure of unit president Chris Larsen earlier this week.

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"I'm not happy about this," Kemna said. "Chris decided to resign from SAP. We worked very nicely together last year in 2000, and when I was asked to take over for SAP America, Chris was an eight-year veteran. But we decided last year to merge the president and CEO role for SAP America into one person."

Sub-context: Kemna, who has 14 years experience at SAP, got the job and Larsen didn't. Of course, Kemna got his job after former CEO Kevin McKay unexpectedly resigned from the company last April.

The incident spilled out onto the stage at the Goldman conference here when European software analyst Devika Malik said she'd gotten a call at 1 a.m. Wednesday from an SAP salesman in London mistakenly asking her why Kemna had resigned. Apparently just to break the ice, the salesman also wished her a happy Valentine's Day.

"Of course, at 1 a.m., I wasn't really in the mood for that," Malik said. In any case, she asked Kemna to address the issue to avoid any confusion.

"It's really me

who's here. Chris wears a mustache and is slightly taller," said Kemna, attempting to inject some humor into the situation. "But I'm sorry and I wish Chris all the best in his future career. And I hope that clarifies matters."

With that out of the way, SAP talked about its finances, including its surprisingly strong fourth quarter results.

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A full 63% of the company's software revenue in the fourth quarter came from its


e-business software. That was short of the 70% analysts were expecting, but was still seen as testament to significant momentum for SAP's e-business offering. For 2000, for instance, MySAP revenue beat analyst expectations by accounting for 53% of German giant's software sales.

SAP competes in the surging e-business sector with the likes of


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"We have created momentum with our customers, and we've been able to create it because our customers have liked and accepted our vision in the e-business space," Kemna said. "In Q4, everything fell into place earlier than we expected them to happen."

Prompted by Malik to assure attendees here that SAP isn't a one-quarter pony, Kemna also said that the company is around for the long haul. And, echoing the standard line of his software brethren, he said the slowdown in IT spending hasn't been felt in his business.

"SAP is in this for the long run," Kemna said. ""We are on track, after 18 months of hard work and getting the skill set right in our people."