Ex-BT CEO to head up Alcatel-Lucent

Verwaayen returns to his roots

Verwaayen returns to his roots

Alcatel-Lucent has appointed former BT CEO Ben Verwaayen as its new chief executive.

The appointment follows the news, back in July, that chief executive Pat Russo and chairman Serge Tchuruk were both stepping down.

The telecoms equipment supplier has struggled to turn a profit since the merger of Alcatel and Lucent in 2006. Late last year it announced it was cutting 4,000 jobs and undergoing major restructuring after it posted a third-quarter loss of €258m. The company also announced 12,500 job cuts in February 2007.

In a September 2007 blog post, Steven Hartley, telecoms senior analyst at Ovum, predicted: "It is still too early to say that the merger has failed completely. However, pressure to deliver on the promises made before the merger is mounting and tough decisions await Alcatel-Lucent over the coming months."

Verwaayen acknowledged the job ahead of him wouldn't be an easy ride: "I'm truly delighted to become the CEO of Alcatel-Lucent, leading a company with vast assets and great talents, while recognising the difficulties and challenges ahead. I am committed to building significant and sustainable value for our shareholders, customers and employees," he said in a statement.

Verwaayen went to BT from Lucent Technologies, back in 2002, where he was vice-chairman of the management board of Lucent Technologies. At BT, he led the telco's push into the broadband market and transformation from old-school telco to 'new wave' services company, as well as championing its 21st Century Network (21CN) project to switch to an all-IP core network.

In addition to Verwaayen, Alcatel-Lucent's board of directors also approved the appointment of Philippe Camus - previously co-CEO at European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), among other roles - as non-executive chairman, from next month. Verwaayen will also join the board.

The board said in a statement: "Philippe Camus and Ben Verwaayen are respected and experienced business leaders. Their understanding of this industry with its challenges and opportunities make them the perfect choice to lead and guide Alcatel-Lucent as it moves into this next stage in its development."

The board added: "Philippe Camus has experience in several high-tech global industries, including the fast-growing media sector, as well as in managing multi-cultural environment. Ben Verwaayen's years of experience in this industry have given him great insight into Alcatel-Lucent. He also has deep understanding of the industry trends and customer needs and is fully committed to innovation, technological excellence and unsurpassed customer service."