Troubled network vendor Alcatel-Lucent has announced that former Vodafone exec Michel Combes will become its new CEO from April 1. Combes will replace Ben Verwaayen, who announced his resignation earlier this month after failing to deliver a turnaround at the company.
Combes, 51, recently spent four years (2008-2012) as CEO of Vodafone Europe. He had been named to take over as chief executive of Vivendi’s SFR last year, France’s second-biggest mobile operator, but the appointment was aborted after a management shake-up at the parent company.
In a prepared statement, Combes recognised the work that lies ahead: “Alcatel-Lucent is an unrivalled technology leader in the telecommunications industry with an immense array of talent and capabilities in R&D facing major challenges. This is a company I know well and I look forward to succeeding Ben, working with the key international customers, and driving the business into sustained profitability for its customers, employees and shareholders.”
Philippe Camus, Chairman of the Board, also noted the need for financial growth after the company reported a full-year net loss of EUR1.372 billion for 2012. “As chief executive he will be responsible for delivering sustainable profitability,” Camus said. “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.”
Bloomberg reports that the move comes as France weighs investing in the loss-making Alcatel to protect the company’s patents, “according to people with knowledge of the deliberations.”