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Alcatel-Lucent's Good News: Ben Verwaayen
* Verwaayen is a seasoned telecom professional. In a long career, he has worked for both Lucent and a firm that was acquired by Alcatel (ITT.) While cultures certainly change, Verwaayen's experience on both sides of the Alcatel-Lucent divide should give him a unique perspective on how best to bridge it.
* At his most recent position, as CEO of British Telecom, Verwaayen learned firsthand what today's carriers need to be successful, and more specifically, what they need from their suppliers. Given that ALU's enterprise business was just 9% of their 2007 total revenues (€3.2 billion of €17.8 billion total), this carrier experience will be particularly valuable.
* One of Verwaayen's measurable successes at BT was an improvement in their business services revenues. In his six-year tenure, business revenues rose 75% (to ₤7.9 billion pounds from ₤4.5 billion pounds) as revenue from retail and wholesale services plunged. That experience on the enterprise business side bodes well for decisions that will need to be made about ALU's enterprise business.
* A Dutch national is a great choice. Having lived in The Netherlands myself, in fact during Verwaayen's tenure at KPN, I know firsthand the international flair of Dutch businesspeople. Their language skills are enviable (Verwaayen speaks English and French in addition to his native Dutch). Verwaayen will be as at ease in front of a shareholder's meeting in France as at an employee Town Meeting in New Jersey.
Late last week, there were whispers in the financial press that Alcatel-Lucent would choose former Alcatel COO Mike Quigley as CEO. I'll admit that choice could as easily have led to a similarly titled blog. Quigley clearly knows, or at least knew, Alcatel inside-out. Perhaps at the end of the day that was why he wasn't chosen. The amount of change that will be required to turn around ALU's business will no doubt benefit from a fresh set of eyes - very seasoned fresh eyes.