Alcatel-Lucent NZ boss abruptly quits

Alcatel-Lucent New Zealand chief executive Steve Lowe has resigned, the company announced in a statement this afternoon.

No reason is given for Mr Lowe leaving the company, which has around 700 local staff.

Alcatel-Lucent is Telecom’s longtime network partner and the builder of its troubled XT network.

In the absence of official commentary, Twitter wags were quick to fill the gap, with one posting "Alcatel-Lucent boss suddenly stops working, with no explanation - much like XT".

Speculation was rife that Mr Lowe was carrying the can for recent XT problems. But, equally, he could be refusing to carry the can. Or heading off to join another company, or play golf or volunteer for the Foreign Legion.

Mr Lowe is a qualified engineer who worked for IBM, Tranz Rail and NZ Post before talking the top job at Alcatel-Lucent NZ.

From outward appearances, Mr Lowe’s departure seems to be abrupt.

Rumours of the chief executive's exit began to swirl Friday morning.

When Alcatel-Lucent’s HR department declined comment, and Mr Lowe’s office did not return calls all day, NBR contacted a senior Telecom executive.

The Telecom executive said that if Mr Lowe was leaving, Telecom would expect to be informed in advance.

As of late Friday afternoon, the executive spoken to by NBR had not been.

Mr Lowe will be replaced on March 8 by Jyoti Mahurkar-Thombre, who will report to Rajeev Singh-Molares, president of Alcatel-Lucent in the Asia Pacific region. Ms Mahurkar-Thombre’s title is given as “head of business”.

Her LinkedIn account gives her current workplace as Chicago.

Last week, Telecom announced that UK consultancy Analysys Mason - last seen in this part of the world advising Vodafone on its bid to head of MTR regulation - would carry out its independent review of XT.

In its statement, Alcatel-Lucent said Mr Lowe and Ms Mahurkar-Thombre will work together during a multi-week transition - a period that will coincide with the Analysys review.

A spokesman for Alcatel-Lucent NZ referred all questions to the Asia-Pacific head Mr Singh-Molares, who was currently in transit to New Zealand and unavailable for comment.

Ms Mahurkar-Thombre was formerly the general manager of Alcatel-Lucent’s Next Generation Networks product unit. Prior to this role, Jyoti was vice president of Bell Labs, where she managed projects from initial concept to product release. Jyoti joined the company in 1988 where she held a variety of product management and research and development positions.

Mr Lowe, and his predecessor Andrew Fairgray, were both veterans of the NZ telecommunications scene.

Alcatel-Lucent was formed in 2006 by the merger of France’s Alcatel with AT&T spin-off Lucent Technologies, which included Bell Labs.

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