Avanex Scores Major 'Coup'
Major will take over as Avanex's president, while Walter Alessandrini will shed that role but remain chairman, the company announced yesterday. Major's first day at Avanex will be Aug. 18. His executive bio has already been removed from the JDSU Website.
Avanex "struck a coup" with the hiring, writes analyst John Harmon of Needham & Co. in a report issued this morning. Major ran the pump laser business of SDL Inc., the largest of JDSU's acquisitions during the bubble (for a nice bit of nostalgia, see JDSU/SDL: A Component Powerhouse). His pedigree includes a 15-year run at the "epicenter" of the optical components industry, Harmon writes.
The new hire is part of Avanex's ongoing work to stabilize itself after getting shipwrecked by the recession. After exceeding $200 per share in 2000, the company's stock price was falling in 2002 when executives proposed the acquisition of Oplink Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: OPLK) to restore the company to power. Oplink shareholders scotched the deal and, shortly afterwards, Avanex CEO Paul Engle departed, and Alessandrini came out of retirement to replace him (see Avanex (AVNX), Avanex and Oplink: Wedding's Off, and Avanex Gets New CEO).
Since then, Alessandrini launched Avanex's new makeover by acquiring the components divisions of Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) last year (see Avanex to Buy Alcatel, Corning Units and Avanex Deal Reshapes Sector). The addition of Major is a "necessary increase in Avanex's management depth in order to take it to the next level," Harmon writes.
Major's hiring marks the second time a JDSU executive has defected to Avanex. The first was Syrus Madavi, who quit as JDSU's chief operating officer after the hiring of Kevin Kennedy as CEO. Madavi now sits on Avanex's board (see JDSU Launches Regime Change and Syrus Madavi Joins Avanex Board).
Avanex stock was up 14 cents this morning, trading at $2.36.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading