Alcatel-Lucent Names New CEO And Chairman

The Paris-based telecom giant said Tuesday that its board of directors has appointed Ben Verwaayen as its new CEO, while come Oct. 1 Philippe Camus will join up as Alcatel-Lucent's non-executive board chairman. Verwaayen will also take a seat on the company's board.

Verwaayen, 56, served as CEO of BT for more than six years and was formerly vice chairman of the management board of Lucent Technologies in the U.S., which he joined in Sept. 1997. Before that, Verwaayen worked with Netherlands-based KPN as president and managing director of its PTT telecom subsidiary, and with ITT, an Alcatel predecessor.

Camus, a French national and U.S. resident, was previously co-CEO at European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company. The 60-year-old Camus is also a co-managing partner of Lagardere, an international media group, and a partner of Evercore Partners, a New York investment and advisory firm.

"Philippe Camus and Ben Verwaayen are respected and experienced business leaders. Their understanding of this industry with its challenges and opportunities make them the perfect choice to lead and guide Alcatel-Lucent as it moves into this next stage in its development," said Alcatel-Lucent's board said in a written statement. "Philippe Camus has experience in several high-tech global industries, including the fast-growing media sector, as well as in managing multi-cultural environment. Ben Verwaayen's years of experience in this industry have given him great insight into Alcatel-Lucent. He also has deep understanding of the industry trends and customer needs and is fully committed to innovation, technological excellence and unsurpassed customer service."

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The two appointments come after Alcatel-Lucent's previous top executive and chairman both stepped down. On July 29, non-executive chairman Serge Tchuruk said he would vacate his post as of Oct. 1, while CEO Pat Russo said she'd leave the company "no later than the end of the year."

According to Alcatel-Lucent, Tchuruk and Russo decided to leave their positions to give the company "a personality of its own" as it moves beyond the two-year-old merger that made Alcatel and Lucent Technologies one company.

Alcatel acquired Lucent Technologies in a 2006 in a deal worth more than $11 billion. Lucent was a successor to AT&T's equipment-making division. Currently, Alcatel-Lucent is in the middle of a cost restructuring initiative that it expects will result in cutting more than 16,000 jobs. Tchuruk and Russo architected the merger.

Tchuruk, who ran Alcatel as CEO and chairman before the merger, and Russo, who took the top executive spot at Lucent in 2002, and retained the chief executive post for the combined company, announced their departures as Alcatel-Lucent, the world's largest fixed and mobile telecom equipment maker, reported its sixth consecutive quarter of losses. In the second quarter of 2008 Alcatel-Lucent suffered a net loss of roughly $1.73 billion. The company reported second quarter revenue of $6.5 billion, down 5.2 percent from $6.8 billion last year. The company also predicted that sales will stagnate or drop slightly in the third quarter.

Along with Tchuruk and Russo stepping down, Alcatel-Lucent's channel chief, Carmen Sorice also left the company, later resurfacing as senior vice president of channels for SunGard Availability Services, a disaster recovery company.

Verwaayen, who will be based out of Alcatel-Lucent's Paris headquarters, said in a statement that he hopes to build significant and sustainable value for the company's shareholders, customers and employees.

"Alcatel-Lucent has a lot to offer: technological excellence, leading market positions worldwide, in developed as well as emerging countries and a strong customer focus," he said. "The company operates in a quickly changing market and therefore is evolving. I'm truly delighted to become the CEO of Alcatel-Lucent, leading a company with vast assets and great talents, while recognizing the difficulties and challenges ahead."

Camus agreed, noting that with him at the helm the board's top priority will be to support Verwaayen in his new role.

"Alcatel-Lucent is an undisputed worldwide leader in the telecommunications industry," Camus said in a statement. "I am looking forward to contributing to the Company's strategic positioning in the context of an industry with challenges but also great opportunities."