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Manugistics Fires Its President

Sales, Stock Price Had Continued to Fall

By Yuki Noguchi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 31, 2004; Page E01

Manugistics Group Inc. disclosed yesterday that it fired its president, as the maker of business software tries to reverse slipping sales, rising costs and a falling stock price.

Jeremy Coote, who primarily ran sales and marketing for the Rockville company, was terminated last week and will leave today, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Coote had joined the company about a year ago with high expectations of boosting sales, but during his tenure the company continued to post losses on declining sales. In recent weeks, some analysts predicted major management changes.

Under his employment agreement, Coote is entitled to a year's salary and benefits and his options continue to vest if he is terminated without cause. Coote's 2004 salary was $195,423, plus a bonus of $77,344.

Manugistics did not release additional information regarding the terms of his employment or the circumstances of his departure. Executives, through a spokeswoman, said they were constrained in commenting by a quiet period before releasing the company's upcoming earnings. Coote, contacted by telephone, declined to comment.

Sheila Blackwell, a spokeswoman for Manugistics, said Coote's departure was not acrimonious.

The announcement came after the company last month hired a new chief executive, Joseph L. Cowan, who was given a mandate to cut costs and boost sales. The company, which supplies software to help corporations and government agencies manage their vendors and inventories, has not been profitable since the quarter ended November 2000.

"Manugistics is in a different place than it was a year ago," Blackwell said. "Joe Cowan is a hands-on CEO with lots of operational experience and a lot of international experience, so he did not require a president in this environment." In the short term, the company does not plan to fill Coote's position, she said.

Coote was hired in June 2003 because of his background leading large software operations at SAP AG and Siebel Systems Inc., two of Manugistics's major competitors.

But in recent months, the company started shifting control away from Coote because sales were not materializing. During the company's last earnings conference call in June, Gregory J. Owens -- then chief executive -- said that he would take over some sales responsibilities, including Coote's international operation. Owens had stepped down as chief executive but remained chairman of the board when Cowan joined the company.

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