If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Avantor Sues IBM Over SAP Implementation

Lab chemicals business alleges product misrepresentation

by Rick Mullin
November 15, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 47

Avantor Performance Materials has filed a lawsuit against IBM over what it claims is the failed implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system from the software firm SAP.

Avantor, the former Mallinckrodt Baker lab chemicals business, alleges in its suit that IBM fraudulently misrepresented the capabilities of its Express Life Sciences Solution information technology platform, which is based on SAP software.

The firm had operated on homegrown software, a spokeswoman explains, but determined that an ERP system was necessary to support planned growth via acquisition. “Issues with the implementation led to widespread problems that prevented us from manufacturing and shipping at appropriate levels for months,” she says. The firm is seeking damages in the tens of millions of dollars.

John M. Steitz, CEO of Avantor, says IBM’s IT platform and services proved “woefully misaligned with the unique needs of our company and our customers.”

IBM denies that it failed to fulfill its obligations. “We believe the allegations in the complaint are exaggerated and misguided and are surprised that Avantor chose to file suit,” the company says.

SAP holds a significant ERP software market share in many industries, including chemicals. In the 1990s, most major chemical firms adopted SAP software. Installations, which sometimes caused interruptions in daily operations, were often undertaken by service firms such as IBM.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.