Optical components

Oplink Changes Hands

5:50 PM -- Maybe it's not as monumental as Scott Kriens stepping aside at Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), but Joe Liu is no longer going to be CEO at Oplink Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: OPLK) starting next year.

This is one of those cases where the CEO's personality is strong enough to define a company; I've always considered Oplink to be Joe Liu. He'll stick around as executive vice chairman, but the optical components company has tapped president Thomas Keegan, who came on board in May, to be chief executive. The news, along with a new COO appointment, came down today as Oplink announced earnings. (See Oplink CEO Resigns, Oplink Reports Q4, and Oplink Announces Appointments.)

Joe can be a colorful guy, and I enjoyed the one interview I've had with him, back in 2004. (See Oplink Migrates East.) But I've also heard it said that his personality made it tough for other companies to consider buying Oplink. Liu does seem like he'd be a tough negotiator.

Oplink did some acquiring of its own, with plenty of drama attached. OCP came into the fold only after some legal maneuverings. And then there was the weird Avanex Corp. (Nasdaq: AVNX) saga of 2002. (See Oplink: We're Down With OCP, OCP Pops a Poison Pill, Legal Battle Drags Down Oplink , and Oplink & OCP Seal Deal — and: Avanex/Oplink Merger: Tip of the Iceberg?, Avanex/Oplink Raises Some Hackles, and Avanex and Oplink: Wedding's Off.)

Maybe the CEO change indicates a strategy change to come. We might have to follow this one up. Meanwhile, I'll be listening in on the Oplink conference call.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

alcabash 12/5/2012 | 3:34:31 PM
re: Oplink Changes Hands Dont let corporate announcements fool you, as long as there is an Oplink, Joe Liu is in charge. Tom and Peter are just acting puppets to execute the Executive Vice chairman orders.
The real question is around the future of Oplink. With hthis move, Joe Liu is clearly planning his personal exit. By that I mean that he wants to monetize his assets, maybe a merger is indeed in the works ?? Look at the share buy back, investors will get cash fairly soon.
olsen 12/5/2012 | 3:26:43 PM
re: Oplink Changes Hands Craig,
Are you gonna dig into this a bit further?
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:26:43 PM
re: Oplink Changes Hands "Joe Liu will still be running the place" .... alcabash, you were more right than you even realized. :)

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:26:42 PM
re: Oplink Changes Hands You bet. Got a particular angle you're hoping I'll take? Suggestions always welcome, anonymity preserved:

(415) 947-6239
[email protected]
deauxfaux 12/5/2012 | 3:26:40 PM
re: Oplink Changes Hands Joe is fanatically tight fisted...he could squeeze cash out of people trying to send him junk mail.

This could have been as simple as deciding to cut one very expensive head. But I would imagine that there is even more to this...I am sure that the new guy wanted to look at acquisitions and other ways to grow the company, while Joe has been, is, and always will be concerned only with cash flow and balance sheet liquidity.

My bet is that he believes that cash preservation is the primary objective and as unappealing as that may be....he may very well be right about that. Oplink will always be Joe's personal "workers paradise" (communist definition) until all of his shares are sold.
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