SAGE JETTISONS NORTH AMERICAN EXECSLONDON - With performance lagging in the company's North American business, the Sage Group purged that region's C-level suite, ousting Sage Software chief executive Ron Verni, chief financial officer Jim Eckstaedt and chief technology officer Jim Foster, amid recent changes in the company's culture and divisional operations. Also gone in the housecleaning was Taylor Macdonald, Sage's chief channel and strategy officer.

"I came to a view with Ron that as the company now has a turnover in excess of around the billion-dollar mark, that perhaps there was a need for a change in style of management in North America," said Sage Group CEO Paul Walker in a conference call.

The news coincided with a preview of Sage's year-end results, where organic revenue growth for its North American unit climbed 4 percent to $722 million. But in terms of growth, North America trailed Sage's other regions, such as mainland Europe, which grew at a 10 percent clip.

The remaining senior management structure in North America will stay in place, but will report directly to Walker until a new regional CEO is appointed.

"We haven't been happy with the North America growth rate, and the view of the board was that some management changes were needed to further the potential of the business," said Cynthia Alers, a spokesperson for Sage.

Recently, Sage has been rumored to be a takeover target by several companies, including Microsoft, Intuit, India's Infosys Technologies and Goldman Sachs. It's unknown whether these plans played a role in the decision to cut the top executives in North America.

HOUSE APPROVES FORECLOSURE AID BILL

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House passed a bill that would provide relief to homeowners facing the threat of taxes on their foreclosed homes in the midst of the subprime mortgage meltdown. The bill passed by a 386-27 margin and would allow taxpayers to avoid taxes on the forgiven portion of their mortgage debts. The Internal Revenue Service has considered the forgiven debt to be taxable.

President Bush issued a statement praising the bill, but urged the Senate to consider it a temporary measure.

SEC SETS UP INTERACTIVE DATA UNIT

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Securities and Exchange Commission has set up a new unit to speed the move to interactive financial reporting by public companies.

SEC Chairman Christopher Cox appointed David Blaszkowsky, an 11-year veteran of McGraw-Hill who spent seven years at the company's Standard & Poor's division, to head the department as director of interactive disclosure. He will coordinate the agency-wide disclosure modernization effort, working with investor groups, analysts, journalists and financial statement preparers.

Last month, the SEC announced the release of interactive data tags in the Extensible Business Reporting Language for the entire set of generally accepted accounting principles.

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