Alcatel-Lucent Taps Former Vodafone Exec As New CEO


Alcatel-Lucent has tapped Michel Combes, the former CEO of Vodafone Europe, as its new CEO.

The appointment of Combes, 51, comes just two weeks after the confirmed departure of Alcatel-Lucent's former CEO Ben Verwaayen, who had been at the helm of the struggling French telecommunications giant since September 2008.

Alcatel-Lucent said Combes will officially take the CEO position on April 1 and will join the company's board of directors, pending shareholders' approval at the Alcatel-Lucent annual meeting in May. Combes has more than 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, having also held the positions of chairman and CEO of TDF and CFO and senior executive vice president of France Telecom.

[Related: Alcatel-Lucent Aims For The Cloud With SDN Venture]

In his new role, Combes will be tasked with helping Alcatel-Lucent move forward with its current restructuring efforts, as the company looks to grow its cash pile and stay competitive against Cisco, Juniper and Huawei.

"It is a great pleasure for us to welcome Michel Combes to Alcatel-Lucent. As chief executive he will be responsible for delivering sustainable profitability," said Philippe Camus, Alcatel-Lucent's chairman of the board, in a statement. "His deep knowledge of the industry as well as his experience of major business and financial transformation at a worldwide level will be pivotal in helping the company pursue its aggressive transformation, while meeting customer needs with disruptive innovation."

According to a report this month from The Wall Street Journal, some Alcatel-Lucent directors had grown frustrated with the progress of the company's turnaround under the direction of former CEO Verwaayen. Other directors, however, reportedly applauded Verwaayen's efforts to stabilize the company, including his taking nearly 2 billion Euro in loans to fuel the turnaround.

Alcatel-Lucent, which earlier this month said it took a 1.37 billion Euro (about $1.85 billion) loss for its fiscal fourth quarter, has been re-evaluating various business units as part of its restructuring. About a year ago, the company spun off Genesys, the contact center specialist it acquired in 2000.

In addition to Combes' appointment, Alcatel-Lucent said it has tapped former Nortel and Bell Canada executive Jean C. Monty as vice chairman of its board.

PUBLISHED FEB. 25, 2013