Alcatel-Lucent CEO steps down

Alcatel-Lucent CEO steps down

Alcatel-Lucent chief Ben Verwaayen is to step down in May after failing to improve the company’s performance.

The decision was made during a board meeting on Wednesday ahead of the publication of Alcatel’s financial results. The ailing equipment maker made a net loss of €1.2 billion in the last three months of 2012.

Philippe Camus, chairman of the Alcatel-Lucent Board, said the company had already begun the search for a replacement and will be looking at both internal and external candidates.

“Alcatel-Lucent has been an enormous part of my life. It was therefore a difficult decision to not seek a further term, but it was clear to me that now is an appropriate moment for the Board to seek fresh leadership to take the company forward,” said Verwaayen.

Alcatel had a difficult 2012 having faced increased competition from Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE as well as lower telecoms equipment spending from telcos.

The vendor’s shares have fallen 70% over the last five years and it has been forced to pursue over 5,000 job cuts as well as €2 billion of loan financing to remain competitive.

Alcatel announced positive free cash flow of €355 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 but was still negative €679 million for the year.

Market watchers suggest that Alcatel may even be forced to withdraw from the wireless equipment market, and the company has also been considering the sale of its subsea cable unit.

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