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.

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


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


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 $77 at the end of 1999, to the $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


The plan to cut $2 billion in costs and improve working capital

by nearly $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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