Lucent's new IR head has work cut out

MURRAY HILL, NJ: Amid a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation and a credit rating cut, telecommunications manufacturer Lucent has selected a new head of investor relations.

MURRAY HILL, NJ: Amid a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation and a credit rating cut, telecommunications manufacturer Lucent has selected a new head of investor relations.

MURRAY HILL, NJ: Amid a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation and a credit rating cut, telecommunications manufacturer Lucent has selected a new head of investor relations.

Barbara Gasper joined Lucent a week ago as president of IR from Raytheon, an electronics and aviation company. She takes over the role from John DeBono, who will head IR for Agere, Lucent's microelectronics business.

The company plans to spin Agere off as a separate company later this year.

Gasper's immediate problems include an SEC investigation into Lucent's accounting practices, and a credit rating cut to one level above junk by Standard & Poor's and Moody's investor services. The company's credit rating has been cut four times since October, when the board fired the CEO, who has yet to be permanently replaced. Lucent stock is down 70% for the year, from above dollars 77 at the end of 1999, to the dollars 15 range more recently.

Lucent also faces a class action lawsuit from stockholders who allege that from October 27, 1999, to January 6, 2000, the company issued materially false and/or misleading company financial information.

Company spokeswoman Debbi Lewis said Gasper is still sorting out how to deal with the problems, but said she will help implement a restructuring plan developed by company executives.

'IR is going to work with the entire treasury and CFO team to help implement the plan and help the various audiences understand it,' said Lewis.

The plan to cut dollars 2 billion in costs and improve working capital by nearly dollars 2 billion includes product line and job eliminations. Lucent has already announced plans to lay off 10,000 employees.

'Barbara has just arrived, but she's looking at things and learning, and she'll be up to speed very soon,' predicted Lewis.





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