Cambridge industrial software giant Aveva today stunned investors by announcing chief executive Craig Hayman was quitting after just three years in the role, to be replaced by a top executive from its majority shareholder, Schneider Electric.
Aveva merged with Schneider’s industrial software division in a £3 billion deal in 2018 which saw Schneider take a 60% stake in the group.
Hayman took over at Aveva just as the deal was about to complete, but is now leaving, to be replaced by Peter Herweck, who is being “seconded” to the role by Schneider Electric.
The move is extremely unusual and could give rise to criticisms from minority shareholders over why a full, global search for a replacement was not launched for such a major job at a FTSE-100 company.
It also gave rise to inevitable speculation that Schneider was looking to increase its influence over the business.
Schneider attempted to head off such talk by issuing a statement saying it was committed to Aveva’s independence.
Aveva shares plunged 6% on the news at the £11 billion company.
Sources at Aveva said the unorthodox succession plan took place because Hayman resigned suddenly, saying he wanted to return to the US to be with his American family.
The group, which only last month completed a $5 billion takeover of data analysis group OSIsoft, felt it needed to find someone urgently to integrate the acquisition.
Herweck has been on the Aveva board for two years as vice chairman and understands the business and its clients, the company said.
While the company was keen not to describe Herweck as an “interim” CEO, it did say he was “seconded” from Schneider, giving the impression that it was not necessarily a permanent replacement.
Sources said the group would review his position permanently after OSIsoft is bedded in.
Aveva helps companies digitise their factory lines and supply chains, allowing them to measure the performance of every valve and pipe in their machinery, flagging when replacements or tweaks are needed to improve efficiency.
OSIsoft is a “data historian” software group, which stores and analysis the billions of bits of performance data. The plan behind the Aveva-OSIsoft merger is to use OSIsoft’s data handling ability with AI technology to offer further analysis and efficiencies to Aveva’s clients.
Hayman handed in his resignation last night and today the company also reported a bounceback in sales in the second half of the year to March 31 after clients reined in software spending during the early months of the Covid pandemic. Double digit revenue growth in the period since October meant the overall year’s revenue was broadly flat.