Pfizer Dials Alcatel-Lucent Exec for CFO

Frank D'Amelio will take the drug-maker's finance helm in September, replacing Alan Levin, who resigned in May.
Sarah JohnsonAugust 22, 2007

Three months after Alan Levin abruptly resigned as Pfizer’s CFO, the pharmaceutical giant has named Alcatel-Lucent executive Frank D’Amelio its new finance chief. D’Amelio, whose current title is chief administrative officer, was CFO of Lucent Technologies for five years before it merged with Alcatel late last year.

His experience working for a global telecommunications company could help him face the challenges sure to be ahead in transitioning to an entirely new industry. Since his career began nearly 30 years ago in the finance department at AT&T Bell Labs, D’Amelio has stayed in the telecom business. Still, according to Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler, D’Amelio has proved to be someone who can handle “rapid and complex changes.”

In fact, he created the financial structure at Lucent when it was created in 1996, and helped propel its initial public offering. When he took over the CFO reigns in 2001, he was tasked with pulling the company out from troubled times after a layoff of 10,000 employees and an 82-percent drop in its stock.

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“I am confident that he will bring valuable new perspectives to our business and financial strategies as we continue to respond aggressively to our challenges and opportunities and work to enhance the value of Pfizer,” said Kindler, a five-year Pfizer veteran who became CEO one year ago.

In addition to taking over the Lucent CFO role in 2001, D’Amelio had been CFO of Lucent’s Network Systems Business, group president of Lucent’s Switching Solutions Group, and corporate chief operating officer. He became senior executive vice president of integration and chief administrative officer when Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent announced its merger with Paris-based Alcatel in 2006.

Following the announced merger — which was the former telecom rivals’ second attempt at combining — both of their stock’s value steadily declined. And the combined company has had a rough go of proving its worth. In fact, Alcatel-Lucent has called 2007 a transition year and is in the process of cutting 12,500 jobs over three years. On Wednesday, it called D’Amelio’s departure, as well as the recent resignation of another senior executive, Mike Quigley, a “natural” evolution in leadership responsibilities considering the merger.

D’Amelio was not immediately available for an interview. In a press release, he expressed his own confidence in Kindler for “setting a course for Pfizer to change the way it does business.”

In the past year, those changes have included trying to keep up with the drug industry’s heavy competition and investors’ and analysts’ criticism of Pfizer’s limited product line. In addition, two prominent executives, including Levin, have said they’ll leave the company. After only two years as CFO, Levin resigned to purse other career opportunities but stayed on while the company searched for his replacement, and R&D president John LaMattina will retire by the end of the year. While Levin has certified Pfizer’s financial statements since May, his biography has been missing from the company’s website since that time.

Levin was praised at the time by one-time CFO and current vice chairman David Shedlarz as playing a key role in leveraging the company’s financial strength. On Wednesday, the company emphasized that Shedlarz will now work closely with D’Amelio.