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Siebel quits as CEO of namesake firm

SAN FRANCISCO -- With a traumatic sales slump and a nasty shareholder fight behind him, Tom Siebel is stepping down as CEO of the business software maker that bears his name and is turning the reins over to IBM Corp.'s former head of sales.

Under the changes detailed yesterday, Siebel will continue as Siebel System Inc.'s chairman and remain a full-time employee after he hands off the chief executive duties to Michael Lawrie, who stepped down as IBM's senior vice president of sales and distribution to take the job.

"Mike Lawrie is the single-best choice to lead and take Siebel Systems to the next level," Siebel said in a statement yesterday.

Lawrie, 50, will join Siebel today. He told analysts in a conference call yesterday that he isn't planning any major changes. "The intention is to stay with the same team, strategy, and game plan."

Meanwhile, IBM has replaced Lawrie with Doug Elix, 55, most recently head of its services division, who himself was replaced by John Joyce, 50, chief financial officer since 1999. IBM's new CFO is Mark Loughridge, 50, who had been senior vice president for global financing and previously was IBM's controller.

San Mateo-based Siebel joins a growing list of companies that have split the chairman and CEO jobs -- a division designed to create greater autonomy between corporate boards and management.

Siebel said he began thinking about separating the duties a year ago. "After giving it an awful lot of thought, I was absolutely certain that this is the right decision for the company," Siebel told analysts.

The company's shares gained 33 cents yesterday to close at $10.62 on the Nasdaq.

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