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Lucent Replaces Deborah Hopkins as CFO

Frank D'Amelio, president of the company's switching-solutions business, is named new finance chief.
Michelle GabrielleMay 7, 2001

CFO Deborah Hopkins is leaving troubled Lucent Technologies barely a year after she took the job.

Lucent, which has also been looking for a new chief executive officer since October, replaced Hopkins with Frank D’Amelio, 43, president of the company’s switching-solutions business.

Under Hopkins, 46, the company posted massive losses, saw its stock drop 82 percent, and announced 10,000 job cuts. Hopkins also oversaw Lucent’s lackluster spin-off of optical components unit Agere Systems Inc.

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Also during her watch, the Securities and Exchange Commission began a formal investigation into the accounting practices at Lucent aimed at finding out whether the telecommunications company committed fraud. The SEC is probing whether Lucent improperly booked $679 million in revenue during the 2000 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. In December the company restated the same amount of revenue after conducting its own investigation.

Although Hopkins helped Lucent negotiate $6.5 billion in new financing in February, investor concerns lingered and forced the company in early April to deny rumors it would file for bankruptcy protection. Credit rating agencies had warned they might cut Lucent’s rating to junk status.

While Lucent posted a second-quarter loss of $3.7 billion, some analysts saw the stabilized balance sheet and stronger-than-expected revenues as signs of progress.

Last October, the company fired chief executive Richard McGinn, who had hired Hopkins, after a series of profit shortfalls and product development missteps. Lucent named Henry Schacht, McGinn’s predecessor, to replace him until a successor is found.

Hopkins, who got a $4.6 million signing bonus when she came to Lucent in April 2000, had to wait one year before she collected it April 24 of this year, according to The Wall Street Journal. She joined the Murray Hill, N.J.-based company after 16 months as CFO at Boeing and was ranked as the second-most powerful woman in business in a poll taken last year by Fortune magazine.

Hopkins has held top-level financial jobs with three major companies in short order. She cut her teeth during 13 years at Unisys, rising to the level of corporate controller, and was groomed by then-CEO James Unruh as a CEO candidate, as reported in CFO magazine in April 1999. But then she left Unisys abruptly to take a lower level post at General Motors.

Hopkins soon rose to the post of CFO for the auto giant’s European division, but then left that job abruptly to become Boeing’s CFO.

It’s been no secret that Hopkins has long viewed herself as a CEO in waiting. She took the Lucent job hoping to someday inherit the corner office, according to the Journal.

In a statement, Hopkins, 46, said she plans to spend time with her children before deciding what to do next. “Now that Lucent’s restructuring program and the required financing are in place, it’s the natural time for me to leave and pursue other opportunities,” she said.

“In rebuilding the company, we need someone who understands both broadband and the balance sheet,” said a Lucent spokesperson in a press release.

Although Hopkins hadn’t said publicly that she planned to leave Lucent, she had expressed frustration at the company’s struggles.

“I was handed a set of cards, and I’m making the most of the cards I’ve got,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg in September. “This is not the order I would have put them in.”

Lucent said D’Amelio, formerly president of Lucent’s switching solutions group, has both the financial and operational expertise the company needs during the next phase of its restructuring.

D’Amelio, began his career in 1979 at Bell Laboratories before joining AT&T in 1988. He was appointed controller of AT&T’s Network Systems division before becoming its CFO in 1996, the year Lucent was spun off from AT&T.

At switching solutions, D’Amelio oversaw the development and manufacturing of Lucent’s software that runs telephone networks.

Neither Hopkins nor D’Amelio was available for comment.

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