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July 29, 2008
The two executives who drove through the merger of Alcatel and Lucent, Serge Tchuruk and Pat Russo, have announced their departures as, respectively, chairman and CEO of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU).
The company also announced it will restructure its board of directors, reducing the number of members from the current 14 over an unspecified period of time. (See Russo, Tchuruk to Leave AlcaLu.)
The news comes only days after the subject of Russo's succession had been raised again following the departure from AlcaLu of prime internal candidate, Frédéric Rose. (See Plot Thickens at AlcaLu and Thomson Nabs AlcaLu Exec for CEO Role.)
The writing has been on the wall for Russo for some time, with reports suggesting that AlcaLu's board had initiated the process of finding a new CEO earlier this year. Former BT boss Ben Verwaayen is still regarded by many as the prime external candidate. (See Is AlcaLu Seeking a New CEO?, AlcaLu Investors Vote for Change, AlcaLu Seeks CEO Dismissal Rule Change, and Verwaayen Set to Leave BT.)
Russo is staying on until a new CEO is found, but her tenure won't last beyond the end of 2008, the company announced.
The giant vendor has struggled since its formation in late 2006, having posted six straight quarters of net losses and seeing its share price tumble more than 60 percent from €10.12 (US$15.90) on December 1, 2006, its first day of operations, to below €4.00 ($6.28). (See AlcaLu Posts Loss, Warns on Full Year, AlcaLu Reports Q4 Loss of €2.6B, AlcaLu Revamps Its Carrier Business, Russo Shakes Up AlcaLu's Top Team, and AlcaLu Board Backs Russo.)
Today's news, coupled with today's in-line second-quarter numbers, gave the stock a 4.2 percent lift to €3.99. (See AlcaLu's Q2 Dragged Down by CDMA.)
In a prepared statement, Russo said: "I believe it is the right time for me to step down. The company will benefit from new leadership aligned with a newly composed Board to bring a fresh and independent perspective that will take Alcatel-Lucent to its next level of growth and development in a rapidly changing global market."
Creating AlcaLu had been a long-time goal for former Alcatel CEO Serge "The Merge" Tchuruk before he finally realized his dream, in the face of some shareholder opposition, in 2006 with willing partner Russo. (See Alcatel-Lucent Stays Tight-Lipped, Farewell, Lucent, Alcatel Lucent Merger Under Fire, and Alcatel, Lucent Seal Deal.)
In the vendor's official announcement, Tchuruk stated: "I am proud that Alcatel-Lucent has become a world leader in a technology which is transforming our society. It is now time that the company acquires a personality of its own, independent from its two predecessors. The Board must also evolve and the Chairman should give the first example, which I have decided to do."
Tchuruk steps down on October 1. A new non-executive chairman is being sought.
As part of the board restructuring, former Lucent CEO Henry Schacht is resigning with immediate effect.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading
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