Only weeks after announcing the impending departure of CEO Ben Verwaayen, Alcatel-Lucent has named Michel Combes as his successor. (See CEO Verwaayen to Step Down at Alcatel-Lucent and Alcatel-Lucent: Don't Blame Ben.)
The news helped AlcaLu's share price gain 2.5 percent to reach €1.17 in early Friday trading on the Paris stock exchange.
Combes, whose name was linked with the AlcaLu top job back in 2008, will take over on April 1 and is also set to join the company's board of directors, pending a vote at the annual shareholders' meeting on May 7.
He was most recently the head of Europe at Vodafone Group plc (2008-2012) and previously held a number of positions, including CFO, at France Télécom – Orange.
When he took on what was a very challenging role at Vodafone in early September 2008, Light Reading noted that his name had been linked with the CEO position at Alcatel-Lucent. (See Colao Revamps Vodafone Team.)
Only days later, on Sept. 15 2008, Verwaayen was named as AlcaLu CEO. (See Verwaayen Takes the Helm at AlcaLu.)
The CEO role at AlcaLu has become available at a fortunate time for Combes. He had been due to become the new CEO at French operator SFR, part of the Vivendi group, in August 2012. However, he decided not to take up the SFR role when Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy, who had appointed Combes, was ousted in June 2012 following a strategy dispute with the Vivendi board. (See Euronews: All Change at Vivendi.)
Bloomberg reported in June 2012 that Combes had seen the SFR role as a stepping stone to eventually becoming CEO at Vivendi, but that the removal of Levy all but killed that aspiration, leaving Combes in limbo.
Combes takes charge of AlcaLu at a critical point for the vendor. It is still in the throes of a restructuring process that will shape its future and which has shown some signs of helping to stabilize the vendor's finances. (See Alcatel-Lucent's Q4 Inheritance.)
Of course, Combes will have his own ideas about the best direction for the company and will want to bring in trusted lieutenants, so it's likely that the second and third quarters of 2013 will see further strategic announcements and personnel upheaval at Alcatel-Lucent.
Combes will be in the public spotlight very soon after settling into the AlcaLu hot-seat as he will be on call to present the company's first-quarter results to investors and analysts on April 26.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading