Outlook uncertain, says Nortel's Stevens

Nortel's outgoing Australia and New Zealand chief today said he thought the company's Asia-Pacific operations were in good stead to weather the economic storm ahead, but he wasn't prepared to guess how rough it would be.

Nortel's outgoing Australia and New Zealand chief today said he thought the company's Asia-Pacific operations were in good stead to weather the economic storm ahead, but he wasn't prepared to guess how rough it would be.

mark_stevens.jpg

Outgoing Nortel Australia MD
(Credit: Nortel)

Mark Stevens, who was today retrenched from the company he has worked at for 19 years, said the troubled networking giant's APAC operations would largely be shielded from its goal to cut 1,300 staff across the globe, adding that the region had only been minimally impacted by the restructure.

However, he would not say how many staff, besides himself, had been made redundant. "There's been some impact but can't say exact numbers," he said. "The majority of the cuts would be in North America. There is some impact in Asia but that's been minimal because in Asia [Pacific] it's a fairly robust business."

Following Nortel's decision to file for bankruptcy in the US and going into administration in the UK, he said discussions with Australian customers had focused on continuity of service. "I've been heartened by customers which have decided to stand by us," he said, although he admitted that the broader IT vendor space was viewed as a "high-risk environment".

I'm not moving to another company. I'm going to take time off

Nortel's Mark Stevens

"I've had a number of meetings with various customers on the carrier and enterprise side, but the general comment I'm getting from these customers is that one of their big concerns is the health of the IT industry," he said.

Although the National Broadband Network promised to offer "enough work for everyone", even that was under a cloud of doubt: "I'm not sure of the timing of that," he said.

"It's hard to get clear guidance other than people are cautious about the unknown in 2009," he told ZDNet.com.au. Adding to that uncertainty, he said, "A number of companies are refusing to put out [forward] estimates", making 2009 "a tough year to call".

As far as Stevens' own redundancy was concerned, he said his fate was sealed back in September. "I'm not moving to another company. I'm going to take time off," he said.

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