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Lucent ends long CEO hunt

Russo, 47, goes back to where she once belonged

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Lucent has appointed the chief operating officer of Eastman Kodak, Patricia Russo, as its chief executive, ending an long searc hfor someone to oversee the continued reorganisation of the struggling telecoms equipment supplier.

Russo, who worked for Lucent and AT&T for 20 years prior to joining Kodak in April last year, returns to a firm whose size has shrunk from 107,000 to 77,000 in the last 15 months. It plans to scale back further so that it employs 57,000. Outgoing Lucent chief executive Henry Schacht will stay on as the firm's chairman while Russo, 47, takes on the role of president and chief executive.

The downturn in telecom spending has hit Lucent, which made a series of expensive data communication acquisitions in the late 1990s, particularly hard.

In May last year, Lucent abandoned plans to merge with Alcatel and the fallout from the failure to conclude that deal has hardly helped matters.

Lucent has an outstanding track record for innovation but a series of poor business decisions and a long string of damaging incidents have brought what was a thriving business to the brink of bankruptcy. Securities and Exchange Commission accounting probes and allegations that workers had sold hi-tech secrets to the Chinese have turned Lucent, a former darling of Wall Street, into a tragi-comic figure. ®

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