Ethernet equipment

Mike Z. Steps Down at Nortel

Mike Zafirovski has stepped down as Nortel Networks Ltd. 's CEO, the company announced today, as Nortel transitions to being a company that remains in business so that it can wind down its business. (See Nortel Makes Changes.)

Following last month's securing of a bid from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) to take over Nortel's CDMA and Long Term Evolution (LTE) assets, Nortel chairman Harry Pearce said in a statement released this morning that Mike Z. and Nortel have reached "a logical departure point."

For Zafirovski, now the hunt begins for a new career as a CEO, preferably for a company that won't require quite as much rehabilitation as Nortel did when he took the helm.

"I've been working for 34 years and I've been fortunate enough for 21 of them to be president and CEO of something," Zafirovski told the Ottawa Citizen today. "I love doing it."

Nortel, on the other hand, turns back to the work of disposing of its businesses and trying to make each one as valuable as possible for the benefit of the company's creditors. The company announced a streamlined organizational structure that will have all of its business units -- Wireless Networks, Enterprise Solutions, Metro Ethernet Networks, Carrier VoIP and Application Solutions, and the LG-Ericsson Co. Ltd. joint venture -- reporting to Chief Restructuring Officer Pavi Binning.

Unrelated fact: Binning spent most of his career at Diageo PLC, the drinks business that owns several world-renowned brands including Johnny Walker, Guinness, and Bailey's. Cheers!

Meanwhile, the company is turning over more control to the auditors and accountants seeing it through the bankruptcy process. Nortel says it has asked the Canadian courts for permission to have Ernst & Young, its bankruptcy monitor, "take on an enhanced role with respect to the oversight of the business, sales processes and other restructuring activities under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) proceedings."

For a quick retrospective on Mike Z.'s rocky tenure at Nortel, we've picked the seven stories that seem to be the most obvious mile markers for the CEO, who turned down no fewer than 28 requests to be interviewed by Light Reading:

— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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