Alcatel CEO: 'It's Hard, It's Emotional, It Feels Painful'
After five years at the helm of telecoms company Alcatel-Lucent, CEO Ben Verwaayen has announced he is to step down, telling CNBC that the execution required to complete the firm's turnaround may be beyond his abilities.
"I think we have stabilized the company," he told CNBC Thursday, confirming that the company is in a better position now after a difficult 2012.
"You look to what you need to go and do in the coming three years - it is execution, execution, execution. And maybe that is not the natural strength that I have so you have to be honest to yourself, to the company and the environment. And as said, after five years it's probably better for somebody else to take the helm of the company."
Alcatel-Lucent also announced it was scrapping its dividend after it swung to a full-year net loss of 1.37 billion euros ($1.85 billion), hit by lower sales in Europe and China.
The company said it booked a non-cash charge of 1.4 billion euros "related to the depreciation of goodwill and fixed assets, and the corresponding impact on deferred tax".
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Verwaayen will step down once the group has found a successor, the company said in a statement on Thursday. Shares in the firm surged in Thursday's trading session, climbing by 6.56 percent.
Since his arrival in September 2008, Verwaayen has been unable to deliver on his pledge to return the group formed in a merger in 2006 to "normal" with steady cash flow and profit. In November, the Wall Street Journal reported that investors were beginning to lose patience with Verwaayen's performance.
"At the end of the day results count...it is true that in a turnaround you will always have frustration and I have no problem whatsoever if people have ambitions that are more than what the results are," he told CNBC in response.
"I took the decision, it's hard, it's emotional, it feels painful but at the same time it was better for the company and therefore that's what you have to do."
Even after trimming the product portfolio and several rounds of layoffs, the group remains hobbled by its smaller size and higher proportional cost base than competitors Ericsson, China's Huawei and Nokia-Siemens Networks.
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Alcatel-Lucent's full-year net loss compared with a net profit of 1.1 billion euros in 2011. It posted an operating loss of 490 million, compared with a profit of 251 million in the previous year.
Revenue fell 5.7 percent last year to 14.45 billion euros.