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Hans-Werner Hector: SAP Co-Founder

November 24, 2015

Hans-Werner Hector was born on January 17, 1940, in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He studied mathematics at the University of Saarland and holds a Master of Science degree from the said university. Hector worked at IBM in Mannheim. It was there along with some colleagues that they realized the vast potential of managerial standard software. So in 1972, they founded SAP. The company successfully grew and after its IPO, Hector was put in charge of developing its US business of what has now become the software giant from Germany.

He left SAP in 1997 and it was not in the best of terms with the company and the other co-founders. The disagreement began after he transferred to a Jersey Islands trust SAP shares representing more than 10 percent of the company’s voting rights. Hector wanted to diversity his portfolio for tax and money-management purposes so in 1996, Union Bank of Switzerland, the trustee, began selling the shares to institutional investors.

This was said to open the to the possibility of an investor obtaining a blocking minority that could threaten the founding shareholders’ control over the company, the preservation of which was key to the structuring of SAP’s 1988 IPO.  Co-founder Dietmar Hopp called for the resignation of Hector from the supervisory board. Hector countered accusing Hopp of not tolerating dissent. Hector, his wife and their charitable foundation, H.W. & J. Hector Stiftung, were the sole beneficiaries of the trust.

He holds an honorary professorship of mathematics  for the University of Karlsruhe for his support of students in math, natural science and technology fields. Hector’s charitable foundation gives money to cancer and AIDS research as well as for art and historic preservation. He and his wife donated over $60 million, in 2011, to the German city of Mannheim to renovate its museum.

In September 2003, Hector and his wife were awarded the Federal Cross of Merit. In January 2014, he and his wife received the Order of Merit of Baden-Württenberg.

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