Computer Associates International Inc. announced John Swainson as its new president and CEO-elect in a conference call yesterday.

Lewis Ranieri, chairman of CA, said Swainson’s role is to build the company’s software strategy and develop products to fulfil that mission.

During the four- to six-month transition period, Kenneth Cron, CA’s interim CEO, will continue to lead the company. Swainson will report to Cron during the transition.

“(Swainson) knows what it takes to run a software business, to build brands and knows how to execute a technology vision to drive growth,” Ranieri added. “We are fortunate to have found a leader of John’s experience and stature.”

Sanjay Kumar, the company’s ex-CEO and chief software architect, resigned from the company in September. He’s being accused of involvement with accounting fraud during CA’s fiscal year 2000 in which licence agreements were backdated to shift revenue into previous quarters, a charge to which Kumar pleaded not guilty.

Swainson is a 26-year industry veteran. He was vice-president of IBM’s worldwide software sales force and before that he was general manager of the application and integration and middleware division of IBM’s Software Group. He was key in developing and marketing IBM’s WebSphere line of products.

Swainson said his biggest challenge is to grow CA in the enterprise infrastructure management space, particularly in systems management and security, and build new business opportunities through acquisitions or internal development.

For example, CA is close to completing its acquisition of Waltham, Mass.-based Netegrity Inc., a provider of security software and should boost CA’s profile in the application security market.

“On the downside, there is clearly a legacy of difficult customer relations and I’ll be working to improve our relationships with customers and turning them into partners instead of adversaries,” Swainson added.

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