Video hardware

Rose Shows His Thorns at Thomson

Former Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) executive Frédéric Rose didn't wait long to make an impact in his new role as CEO of French vendor Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) -- within 24 hours he had given former colleague Jacques Dunogué his marching orders and announced a series of senior management changes.

Rose, by any other name, was recently the head of Europe, Africa, and Asia/Pacific at AlcaLu. He started his new job on Sept. 1, and by the next day Dunogué, head of Thomson's Systems division and a former colleague of Rose's at Alcatel before he joined Thomson in 2006, was clearing his desk. (See Thomson Nabs AlcaLu Exec for CEO Role.)

Replacing Dunogué is Didier Trutt, who had been Thomson's chief operating officer. Trutt now manages the business that sells video hardware and software -- including encoders, video servers, home gateways, set-top boxes, and the Smartvision IPTV middleware -- to fixed and mobile carriers and cable operators. (See 3 Italia Deploys Thomson, Reliance Deploys Thomson, Thomson Ships Home Hubs, Comcast Gives Thomson Nod for DTAs , Thomson, Ericsson Bag IPTV Deals, French Firms Take On Microsoft, Thomson Markets 100-Mbit/s Modem, and Thomson Boasts IPTV Success.)

The Systems division also houses the Cirpack softswitch business, which is being marketed as an integrated platform to carriers that want to deliver IPTV and VOIP to their broadband customers using a single platform. (See Thomson Fuses VOIP & IPTV, Thomson Wins Cablecom Deal, Thomson Wins Irish IPTV Deal, Cirpack Hits 6M Lines, and SFR Picks Thomson for FMC.)

But Systems, one of Thomson's three operating divisions, alongside Technology (broadcast/TV equipment) and Services, has been disappointing financially, with slow orders from broadband service providers hitting sales earlier this year, though there have been signs of improvement recently. (See Euro Stock Watch: Thomson Up, Tiscali Down.)

Thomson had not responded to questions about Dunogué's departure as this article was published, but it's clear that Rose didn't axe his former colleague just because of his Alcatel heritage.

In fact, having previously worked at Alcatel appears to be a requisite for new appointments at Thomson.

Joining Trutt as members of the management team are: Vince Pizzica, the new special advisor for strategy, technology, and marketing, who arrives from Australian carrier Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS), but who previously held senior positions at Alcatel, including CTO of Asia/Pacific (see Alcatel Opens New R&D Center; and Andrew Levido, the new head (from Oct. 1) of Business Operations, who was Rose's COO in ALcaLu's Europe, Africa, and Asia/Pacific business.

Rose has also shrunk Thomson's executive committee from 10 people to seven as "part of the effort to streamline decision-making." [Ed. note: Saves a few bucks on the board room pastry budget, too.] The French firm has clearly struggled this year as it lurched from one upheaval to another.

The new CEO is obviously keen to see Thomson have a greater impact on the telco and cable sectors, where it has experience in many areas of digital content creation, management, and delivery -- key attributes for any company wanting to help service providers deliver high quality video content over managed networks (fixed, cable, and mobile) and the public Internet.

Rose will also want to stamp his authority on the company and impress investors as he seeks to send Thomson's share price in the right direction after a year of declines that has seen the company's stock lose 70 percent of its value. The company's share price stands at €3.07, down 5 percent today on the Paris bourse.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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