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Test & Measurement

Piconi Parts With Spirent

Just one year after hiring a former senior Lucent executive to head up its telecom business, Spirent Communications plc has yet another body in charge of the test-and-measurement unit that generates the majority of the company’s revenues, Light Reading has learned.

Rob Piconi, Spirent’s chief operating officer and president of the Performance Analysis division, has left the company after just one year. He joined shortly after Alcatel and Lucent merged, and just as Spirent was beginning a comprehensive review of its operations and assets following a sudden change in board-level management. (See Piconi Packs His Bags, Spirent Faces Further Upheaval , and Spirent Restructures Team.)

Piconi had looked a strong candidate to be the company’s next CEO, but that job has instead gone to Bill Burns, formerly head of the firm’s Service Assurance division. Spirent has not publicly announced the changes, which came into effect on January 23, and when asked, provided the following statement:

”Bill Burns has been appointed to be Chief Executive Officer of Spirent Communications businesses. Bill has been with Spirent since 2004 heading up the Service Assurance division, global sales and marketing. Bill has had extensive experience in telecommunications before joining Spirent. Rob Piconi, President of the Performance Analysis division, decided to leave Spirent in order to pursue opportunities elsewhere.”

Piconi could not be reached for comment, but an industry insider, who requested anonymity, told Light Reading that the former Lucent man had been pressing for a new strategy that differed from that of Ed Bramson, the activist investor who took over as Spirent’s executive chairman in March 2007, having led the initial boardroom coup in December 2006. (See Spirent Spikes CEO .)

That tension in strategic outlook eventually led to Piconi’s departure, according to the source, who says an acquisition is still a very real possibility while Bramson is at the helm. (See Spirent: We're Not Prepping for Sale.)

In the meantime, Spirent is set to announce better-than-forecast results on February 28 when it reports on the second half of 2007. (See Spirent Gets a Lift and Spirent Updates on Q4.)

The company is expected to show that the cost-cutting made during 2007, and continued investment in the TestCenter platform, have paid off. (See Spirent Makes Deeper Cuts , Spirent Loses on Wireless Unit Sale, and Spirent Cuts Deeper, Sticks With OSS.)

During the first half of 2007, Spirent, one of the telecom test sector's largest players, generated revenues of £114.2 million (US$224 million), of which the vast majority, £97.1 million ($190 million), came from the Communications Group (Performance Analysis plus Service Assurance). The rest of the sales came from Spirent's non-telecom Systems group, which makes control systems for electrically-powered vehicles.

Spirent's share price ended Friday at 52 pence on the London Stock Exchange .

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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