Optical/IP Networks

Cisco's Kennedy: Recruiter's Dream?

Rumors abound that Kevin J. Kennedy, senior vice president of Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) service provider line of business, is being seriously considered for the CEO post at Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) and for a top job at Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT).

As is always the case in this business, you can't believe everything you hear, but you can repeat it. In Redback's case, so many have repeated it that it helped Redback shares climb 0.40 (8%) to 5.39 in late afternoon trading.

The first published account of the rumor appears to be a July 20 posting on Briefing.com, which attributed the speculation to trading-floor rumors.

image In talks with several sources Wednesday, Light Reading has found no direct confirmation that Kennedy has been in talks at either Redback or Nortel.

"Why would he want the Redback job -- is he stupid?" asked one fund manager who had also heard, and been befuddled by, the rumor.

It's obvious that Kennedy would be a good catch for either Redback or Nortel. He's a telco equipment veteran who also happens to be the man in Cisco that service providers have on their speed-dial list.

One source at Cisco notes that Kennedy recently helped soothe SBC Communications Inc.'s (NYSE: SBC) concerns about Cisco's restructuring. In fact, he signed letters of reassurance to SBC that helped spell out specifics as to what Cisco's technology plans are. "They were concerned, and they only wanted to hear from Kevin Kennedy," says the source.

During its conference call on July 11, Redback Chairman Pierre Lamond said the company would be ready to make an announcement concerning its CEO post within two weeks.

A source close to Cisco notes that if Cisco were to announce something big, like an executive departure or an additional restructuring, it would likely happen sometime before August 7, when it has its fiscal year-end earnings conference call.

"We don't comment on rumors and speculation, and it's in our best interest not to get Mr. Kennedy on the phone for every rumor that comes up," said a Cisco spokesperson. "We have gotten some calls about the rumor."

- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com Movers and shakers from more than 100 companies – including Cisco – will be speaking at Opticon 2001, Light Reading’s annual conference, being held in San Jose, California, August 13-16. Check it out at Opticon2001.

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