Nortel CFO to resign

Nortel CFO to resign

Peter Currie plans April 30 resignation, Nortel searches to enlist new CFO

Nortel this week said its CFO will step down at the end of April.

Peter Currie will resign from the company after two years as executive vice-president and CFO. He was a holdover from the regime of ex-CEO Bill Owens, who left Nortel 16 months ago, and steered the company through its financial restatement period following an accounting scandal in 2004.

Currie's resignation is effective April 30. After that date, he will assist the company in its transition to a new CFO.

Nortel has initiated a search to fill the position.

"I want to thank Peter for his very significant contribution to Nortel over the past two years," said Mike Zafirovski, Nortel president and CEO, in a statement. "Peter has successfully steered Nortel through many difficult financial issues and, in the process, has enhanced the company's governance. I and the entire Nortel team want to wish him well as he takes on new challenges."

"I believe that I have achieved at Nortel what I returned to accomplish," said Currie in a prepared statement. "We have transformed the finance organization, significantly strengthened internal controls, and improved the balance sheet," Currie said. "I look forward now to pursuing other challenges."

Some analysts believe Currie chose to leave due to differences with management on merger and acquisition strategy.

"The CFO's resignation seems unexpected to us as there was no mention of this outcome in previous analyst sessions or conference calls, and Nortel's Web site has him speaking at an investor conference in early March," states investment firm UBS Warburg in a bulletin on Currie's impending departure.

"We believe his departure is likely due to Nortel looking to be more aggressive in pursuing growth via M&A given the likelihood that most restructuring initiatives and internal financial controls are likely in place," the UBS Warburg bulletin states. The firm believes Nortel may look to make acquisitions to bolster its enterprise, IPTV and 4G wireless ambitions.

Another analyst believes Currie may have become impatient with the pace of Nortel's recovery from the accounting scandal and subsequent restatements and reorganization.

"This may be a signal that the patience of the team is wearing thin on a slow turnaround," states CIBC World Markets Analyst Ittai Kidron in a bulletin to investors.

"While some progress has been made, there is still much more ahead of the company. Thus, the departure could undermine investors' confidence in Nortel's ability to deliver on its targets near term," he says.

"While we see good changes being implemented within the company, we believe they are slow to transpire and not well managed relative to Street expectations," Kidron states.

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