Siebel User Week: Shareholders call for Siebel to sell-up

While the Siebel good and great were facing the customers in Barcelona, back in the USA the company still faces calls to sell out from some of its major investors.

Siebel should put itself up for sale, said Providence Capital president Herbert Denton, who said he was backed about 70 institutional investors. "Shareholders feel that this is a broken wheel that cannot be fixed," Denton said after a meeting in New York with investors who between them a third of Siebel's shares. "They want Siebel sold because they want to maximize value. They think it's a decaying asset."

According to Denton, about 70 people attended the closed-door meeting, either in person or via a conference call. "It was a firefight - people were outdoing themselves saying how much they wanted the company to be sold," he said

Denton said investors also feel that new CEO George Shaheen is too closely aligned with both former CEO and company founder Tom Siebel and with the Siebel board of directors on which he has sat for a decade.

Shaheen headed Accenture and later became CEO of WebVan, a short-lived Internet grocery service which went bankrupt after three years after eating through $1 billion in funds and never making a profit.

Last year Oracle CEO Larry Ellison claimed that Tom Siebel had asked him to buy out the CRM market leader, claims which Siebel has neither confirmed nor denied. This week Shaheen gave the standard, non-commital answer to any questions about potential takeover candidates.

"As CEO of public company you work on behalf of shareholders. One does not control when another entity is interested in coming in to buy the company," noted Shaheen. "I have a fiduciary responsibility to do what is best for our shareholders. What’s best for them is to improve our performance and the market capitalisation of this company. The final scorecard is about what the investing public thinks we’re worth. How an independent third party regards us is not my responsibility."

He also addressed the question of Tom Siebel's continued involvement. "Tom is not involved in the day to day running of Siebel," insists Shaheen. "He has communicated to the board that he does not want to be involved in the day to day running. He’s satisfied with being chairman. He said to me 'This is your company - take it!' I am taking him at his word."

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