Nortel Unifies Optical
"It made sense operationally. And Brian has a lot of metro experience," says a company spokesperson. Nortel's also intent on integrating its optical technologies in future metro and long-haul offerings. So moving it under one roof seemed the best way to proceed.
When reports of the division change hit the Canadian papers this morning, it was unclear whether by taking over metro optical as well as long haul, McFadden wouldn't be displacing colleague Frank Plastina, who heads up Metropolitan and Enterprise Networks. That's absolutely not the case, Nortel says. Plastina will continue to be in charge of Nortel's intelligent Internet, VOIP, enterprise, and optical Ethernet product lines.
Nortel continues to have three divisions: Wireless, headed by Pascal Debon, as before; the new Optical Networks, headed by McFadden; and Metropolitan and Enterprise Networks, headed as before by Plastina (who was once, back in the Roth era, widely considered a CEO-designate).
Debon, McFadden, and Plastina continue to report to CEO Frank Dunn.
"There's been no management change," says Greg Mumford, CTO of Nortel. "All we've done is add a bit to Brian's responsibilities."
An internal memo from Dunn, apparently issued to employees last week, outlines McFadden's new responsibilities: "Brian will have P&L responsibility for the combined Metro Optical and Long Haul business. His accountabilities include investment decisions, priorities and product marketing for non-Optical Ethernet applications, as well as R&D deliverables for all optical products, including optical product requirements for Optical Ethernet solutions."
In an interesting twist, McFadden is taking on all of Nortel's DWDM and next-gen Sonet products, including the OPTera Metro 5200 and 3500 series, spokespeople say. But several so-called optical Ethernet products, including the OPTera Metro 1000 series and the Passport 8600, are staying with Plastina's division. To make matters hairier, Plastina will continue to focus on optical sales to enterprise customers.
The split's a confusing one, especially since Nortel acknowledges that the OPTera Metro 5200 and 3500 series can be used in optical Ethernet applications. Indeed, it raises questions about how permanent this latest deck shuffling will be.
"It wouldn't surprise me from a reporting basis if Nortel was to reduce its structure to only two divisions -- wireless and wireline," says a Canadian financial manager, who asked not to be named. It would be easy to just give Plastina a separate title, he says, if McFadden were eventually put in charge of all optical products. After all, the position of COO hasn't been filled since Clarence Chandran left last year (see Nortel's Empty Room at the Top).
Meanwhile, though, Nortel seems intent on its present strategy. Marco Pagani, who was head of the Metro Optical business under Plastina's direction, will stay in the Metro/Enterprise division, but will be in charge of a new Optical Ethernet business.
Analysts seem unfazed by the news. "Long-haul optics isn't expected to recover until late 2003 at the earliest, so I view it positively that [Nortel is] getting each division in a position to be profitable," says the Canadian analyst.
In other news, Nortel's managed to exceed expectations in the sale of its equity and common share offering made late last week. The overallotment, or greenshoe offering, has been taken up and oversubscribed, Nortel says, bringing in about US$1.475 billion instead of the originally anticipated $1.3 billion (see Nortel to Raise $1.3B and Nortel Increases Offering Estimate).
— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading