Nortel CEO seen leaving as assets sale wraps up

TechOnline India - August 09, 2009

News reports say Nortel Networks Corp. president and CEO Mike Zafirovski will soon resign his job at the telecommunication equipment company after seeing it through bankruptcy and asset sales.

Nortel Network Corp. president and CEO Mike Zafirovski is reportedly getting ready to resign his job at the bankrupt company after arranging the sale of assets at the telecommunication equipment vendor he was initially hired to rescue.

Zafirovski who joined Nortel in 2005 from Motorola Inc. will sometime soon announce he is leaving the company, according to news reports. The Financial Times, which first announced the news of Zafirovski's expected departure, cited "people familiar with the matter."

When Zafirovski was appointed CEO at Nortel, he was charged with turning around the ailing company and making it more competitive in a fast-changing market that was dealing with intense competition from traditional rivals in Europe and new ones in lower-cost Asian countries.

The deregulation of the telecom market as well as changes in demand at service providers also hurt the company as it could not sustain spending on R&D and other expenses.

In response, Nortel recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to give it time to reorganize operations and reduce costs but the company has also been actively selling assets, including its CDMA wireless technology business, a division that Ericsson LM of Sweden recently agreed to buy for $1.13 billion. Nortel is also hawking around its interest in LG Nortel, a joint venture with Korea's LG.

Zafirovski's departure, if confirmed, would mark the end of the road for Nortel although efforts to wind up its affairs would likely continue under a different executive.

Prior to joining Nortel, Zafirovski served as president and chief operating officer at Motorola with responsibility for the networking equipment company's mobile devices division. He previously worked for more than 25 years at General Electric before leaving for Motorola in June 2000.

It's not clear who will take over at Nortel if Zafirovski departs before completing the disposal of the company's assets. Among likely internal candidates are CFO Pavi Binning, head of operations Dennis Carey and William Donovan who serves as senior vice president of business transformation.

Others include Daryl Edwards, president of Nortel's Global carrier division, and Richard Lowe, head of carrier networks. The top management also includes Philippe Morin, president, Metro Ethernet networks, and Joel Hackney, president of enterprise solutions.

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