Nortel to Grab Koch?
File this one under rumors we can't confirm -- or resist passing along: Roland Koch, former president of the Information and Communication Networks (ICN) group at Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE), could be the next CEO of Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT).
Koch, a 28-year veteran of Siemens, left his post as ICN president officially on Wednesday, "by mutual agreement to pursue new personal interests," after ICN was targeted as key to Siemens' poor quarterly financials (see Siemens Announces 'Mixed' Results).
Sources say Koch has been considering the Nortel job for a while and has impressed the management team there.
Nortel spokespeople say they can't comment on rumors or speculation, and that the company has provided no updates on the company's CEO search, which began earlier this year when the current CEO John Roth announced his plans to retire in April 2002.
Sources at Nortel have said that Roth and Nortel's board would like to hire a new CEO from outside the company.
Would Koch be a good choice? Given his exit under a cloud, what's to recommend Koch for the helm of one of the world's most endangered companies?
Several things, actually. First, there's his background. Koch, 55, is a veteran of the public carrier marketplace. His two-and-a-half-year tenure as president of ICN followed years of jobs in the U.S. and Germany in sales, marketing, and management of Siemens wares to carriers. In the relatively insular world of public carriers, Koch is definitely an insider.
Koch's experience is also not limited to the U.S. carrier market. Siemens does a majority of its business outside the U.S., and Koch's experience and affiliations could make him attractive to a company that sees its future as reliant on a global presence.
Of course, there's the downside -- that Koch's tenure at the helm of ICN took place during the company's worst three years. Indeed, ICN was singled out for a slap in the latest earnings announcement.
"Our third quarter earnings are unsatisfactory," said Siemens CEO Heinrich v. Pierer in a prepared statement. "Over the coming weeks we will define further measures to improve our results, particularly at Information and Communication Networks." ICN's results were an all-too-familiar pastiche of order falloffs, inventory writedowns, and putrid goodwill.
- Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com Movers and shakers from more than 100 companies – including Nortel – 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.