Frank Dunn knows bootstrapping. The 47-year-old CFO of Brampton, Ontario-based Nortel Networks came to the company straight out of business school in 1976. After serving in virtually every division of the telecommunications equipment manufacturer, he was scheduled to take over as CEO on November 1.
The circumstances could be better. Like Lucent, its major competitor, Nortel has been devastated by a severe drop-off in demand from the world’s telecom providers. Second-quarter revenues of $4.6 billion were down 36 percent from the same period last year. Despite recent contracts with Voice-stream and SBC, the company indicates the outlook for the rest of this year is even worse.
In response, Nortel has been closing down manufacturing facilities and laying off thousands of workers in an effort to adjust to the weaker market. The aim is to reduce the quarterly break-even level to under $4 billion in revenue from about $5 billion earlier this year. The company has taken extraordinary charges of $19.4 billion this year for write-downs of goodwill and inventories, workforce reduction (40,000 through layoffs and 10,000 through divestitures), and losses from customer finance activities. “At this point, they’re positioning themselves to survive the downturn,” says analyst Jim Parmelee of Credit Suisse First Boston. “Dunn’s appointment provides some continuity amidst all the disruptions.”
Fortunately, he’ll have some help. The Nortel board has created a strategy-setting “office of the chief executive,” composed of Dunn, board chairman Red Wilson, and outgoing CEO John Roth, who remains vice chairman of the board.
CFO sadly reports the deaths of David Alger, CFO of mutual fund company Fred Alger Management Inc.; and Jeffrey G. Goldflam, SVP and CFO of Cantor Fitzgerald affiliate eSpeed Inc. Both men perished in the September 11 terrorist attacks. Fred Alger lost all of its 35 employees, and, as has been widely reported, bond-trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald LP lost more than 700 employees in the collapse of the World Trade Center.
Xerox Corp. CFO Barry Romeril has done his last copy job. The 58-year- old head of finance retired from the Stamford, Conn.-based document-management firm. While at Xerox, Romeril saw his fair share of ups and downs, including a 1999 SEC probe that uncovered accounting irregularities and had former CEO G. Richard Thoman calling for Romeril’s resignation (Thoman was instead forced out).
ANC Rental Corp. wouldn’t settle for a loaner. So, the Fort Lauderdalebased owner of National Car Rental System Inc. and Alamo Rent A Car recently appointed Wayne Moor as finance chief to replace Kathleen Hyle, who resigned. Moor comes to ANC from flower-and-gift retailer Gerald Stevens Inc., where he served as CFO.
Former Excite@Home Corp. EVP and CFO Mark McEachen may now be at home as often as he likes. McEachen resigned from the Internet-services firm to “pursue other opportunities.” Excite@Home has not named his successor.
After 15 years of pounding out numbers for Bethlehem, Pa.-based Bethlehem Steel Corp., CFO and vice chairman Gary Millenbruch has decided that it’s time to retire. The 63-year-old executive will be succeeded by Leonard Anthony, 47, who had been serving as VP of finance and treasurer for the steelmaker. Millenbruch’s retirement is effective October 31.
One Bona Fide CFO
Brian V. Turner is the real deal. The former president and COO of software provider BSquare Corp. has been named CFO of RealNetworks Inc., a Seattle-based Internet media firm. Turner, 41, takes over from Paul Bialek, who announced his resignation earlier this year.
David P. Warren’s stock has certainly risen. The 47-year-old has been named CFO of Nasdaq. Warren had been acting as CFO since the July departure of Gordon Martin, and was previously chief administrative officer.
America West Holdings Corp. has added Bernard L. Han to the corporate office. Han, 37, has been appointed EVP and CFO of both the holding company and its America West Airlines subsidiary. The former SVP of marketing and planning replaces Thomas K. MacGillivray, 41, who resigned.
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Amazon.com Inc.’s former international division CFO, Christopher Zyda, got a lawsuit as a going-away present when he recently took a job as Ebay’s vice president for financial planning, analysis, and investor relations. Arguing that the new job violated his 1998 noncompete agreement, Amazon requested, and won, a temporary restraining order from a Washington State federal court to prevent Zyda from starting work.
While the enforceability of noncompetes varies widely from state to state, this battle threatens to be prolonged, since Ebay had already filed a preemptive lawsuit in state court in California, where noncompetes are often nullified. “They were smart, since California is much more liberal,” says Eric Sinrod, a partner at Duane Morris in San Francisco. It’s still unclear which state will get the case, he says.
As companies become more aggressive about protecting intellectual property, noncompetes will become a bigger career roadblock than ever, lawyers say. “I’ve seen a very noticeable spike in these types of cases, largely because there’s room for argument on both sides,” says Sinrod.
And with shifting business plans, “competitor” is getting hard to define. “Unless someone’s naming exact companies, which is pretty unusual, your competitors would be defined the day you leave a company, rather than the day you start,” says Carol Silverman, executive compensation specialist at William M. Mercer Inc. Since Zyda signed his noncompete, Amazon has expanded into used-product sales, Ebay’s domain.