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Velti shares surge after Ross named CFO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Velti PLC shares rose nearly 14 percent Monday after the mobile marketing company announced it is bringing in a respected executive to oversee its finances.

THE SPARK: Jeff Ross, former chief financial officer of software maker Sybase Inc., will become Velti's CFO on Jan. 7.

The hiring is a coup because of Ross' financial experience at much larger companies than Velti, where revenue this year is expected to approach $280 million.

Ross was Sybase CFO leading up to the company's $5.8 billion sale to Germany's SAP AG in 2010. Before becoming Sybase's CFO in 2007, Ross held several other finance jobs at the company and previously worked at a PricewaterhouseCoopers.

With Ross' appointment, Velti has now brought in four top executives during the past six months as part of an overhaul aimed at reversing its losses and boosting its stock price, which has dropped by about 37 percent this year. The company, which is based in Dublin with a U.S. hub in San Francisco, lost $51 million through the first nine months of this year, compared with a loss of $40 million in the same period last year.

Velti's other recent hires include former Microsoft Corp. executives Jason Hoffman and Harry Patz, and former SuccessFactors executive Jesper Helt. SAP bought SuccessFactors, a maker of software for managing human resources departments, for $3.4 billion earlier this year.

THE ANALYSIS: Jefferies analyst Peter Misek believes Ross will help burnish Velti's reputation on Wall Street. He also predicted Ross could eventually groom Velti for a possible sale to a company like Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Facebook Inc. or Apple Inc., which may be looking for more tools to sell advertising on smartphones and tablet computers.

"We see the new hires as adding credibility and talent, which will yield more consistent execution, though patience will still be needed in the short term," Misek wrote in a Monday research note.

SHARE ACTION: Velti rose 52 cents, or 13.5 percent, to $4.36 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a range from $3.07 to $14.65 this year.