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CEO Ben Verwaayen out at Alcatel-Lucent

In what seems to be a commonality of late in the IT world, another CEO has stepped down from his post. This time it’s Ben Verwaayen, CEO of French-based telecom Alcatel-Lucent. The company confirmed today, per an announcement on MarketWatch, that Verwaayen will step down from his positions as CEO and board member; the telco reported declines in the last year and profit for the fourth quarter of last year.

Verwaayen, who has led the company since 2008, will stay at his post during a transition period while a replacement is sought, Alcatel-Lucent said in a company press release.

 “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,” Verwaayen said. “I have therefore informed the Board that I will not seek re-election at the Annual General Meeting, and I will work with them openly and fully as they complete a succession process.”

The company added that a search committee has been formed to seek out Verwaayen’s replacement.

In commenting on Alcatel-Lucent’s obvious troubles, as well as Verwaayen’s impending departure, telco analyst Jeff Kagan wonders why, since Lucent was acquired by a strong Alcatel, that things have gone downhill ever since. “They have been through several CEOs, from both sides of the Atlantic and still success and growth is just not occurring,” Kagan wonders. “Why?”

“Companies are growing, the industry is transforming, the Internet is exploding, every company needs more gear, so why isn’t Alcatel-Lucent wildly successful? That is the big question,” asks Jeff Kagan. “Is it the direction of the company? Is it the way they interact with the marketplace? Is it the way they position themselves looking backward instead of forward? I believe that a failure in marketing and messaging is one of the key problems the company has faced during the last several years,” he surmised.

Kagan also lamented that new leadership could possibly unlock the future for a “new” Alcatel-Lucent. “Just like the ingredients can make any dish either delicious or a disaster, the right leadership is key here,” he said. “If Alcatel-Lucent can find the right leader and put the company on the right track, I believe it can be successful again. However a lot of water has already gone under the bridge, and time is key.

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