Alcatel-Lucent CEO To Exit

Verwaayen will not seek re-election as a director at Alcatel-Lucent's annual general meeting and plans to depart as CEO when a new leader is in place.

"After due reflection, the board has accepted Ben's decision to step down as CEO," Philippe Camus, chairman of Alcatel-Lucent's board, said in a statement. "Over the last few years, Ben has set a new direction, created one company out of two, and has recently seen through the completion of the stabilisation of the company’s balance sheet, enabling us to move forward with confidence. The board wishes to record its thanks to Ben, and will take full advantage of him remaining in the role as CEO whilst the board runs a full and independent process to find a successor, looking at both internal and external candidates."

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"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," Verwaayen said in the statement.

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Board members Camus, Daniel Bernard, Louis Hughes, Jean Monty and Jean-Cyril Spinetta are part of the search committee for a successor, Alcatel-Lucent said.

Alcatel-Lucent has been hemorrhaging cash in recent years as the company seeks to keep pace with more diversified competitors. In a separate release Thursday, the company said it took a 1.37 billion Euro (about $1.85 billion) loss for its fiscal fourth quarter.

The Wall Street Journal reported that some directors grew frustrated with the progress of Alcatel-Lucent's turnaround, while others saw Verwaayen as successful in stabilizing the company, which recently took about 2 billion Euro in loans to help its restructuring effort.

Part of that restructuring has been re-evaluating various business units. Alcatel-Lucent a year ago unloaded Genesys, the contact center specialist it had acquired in 2000, and which is now a privately held, stand-alone company. There also has been speculation Alcatel would sell its Enterprise business unit, where much of its traditional VAR and integrator business resides, and which accounts for about 10 percent of revenue.

Paris-based Alcatel and Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent merged in a $13.4 billion stock deal in 2006. The combined company is still a roughly $19.5 billion big wheel, according to its fourth-quarter filings, but has been stymied by bigger or more agile competitors on all sides, from Ericsson and Huawei to Cisco and Juniper.

Verwaayen, a former CEO of Britain's BT Group, became Alcatel-Lucent's CEO in September 2008.