• February 8, 2013
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

A Leadership Shakeup Occurs at Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent announced yesterday that Ben Verwaayen will step down as CEO after slightly more than four years on the job.

Verwaayen, 60, came to the Paris-based telecom equipment manufacturer in September 2008 after seven years as CEO of British telephone giant BT.

Alcatel-Lucent has been on shaky financial ground for the last few years and in 2012 reported $19.3 billion in revenue but a fourth-quarter loss of $1.8 billion.

Philippe Camus, chairman of the Alcatel-Lucent board, said in a statement that Verwaayen "has set a new direction, created one company out of two, and has recently seen through the completion of the stabilization of the company's balance sheet, enabling us to move forward with confidence."

During Verwaayen's tenure, Alcatel-Lucent sold contact center software provider Genesys to private equity group Permira for $1.5 billion. That deal took place in late 2011, and many analysts expect the company to sell off other assets moving forward.

For Verwaayen's part, he said in a statement that he felt it was time for new leadership to step in. "Alcatel-Lucent has been an enormous part of my life. It was, therefore, a difficult decision to not seek a further term, but it was clear to me that now is an appropriate moment for the board to seek fresh leadership to take the company forward," he said in the statement.

He added, "The combination of our recent refinancing and the implementation of our restructuring plan will put the company on a secure footing for the successor the board will seek to appoint."

But not everyone is as optimistic.

Telecom industry analyst Jeff Kagan, for one, said the company has already been through several leadership changes with CEOs from both sides of the Atlantic "and still success and growth is just not occurring."

In a statement, Kagan blamed the lack of success at Alcatel-Lucent on "a failure in marketing and messaging."

Nonetheless, he also said the company can right itself. "The right leadership is key here. If Alcatel-Lucent can find the right leader and put the company on the right track, I believe it can be successful again. However a lot of water has already gone under the bridge, and time is key. They must find the right leader and strike out on the right path quickly, before it's too late."

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