People

Ex-es at Avanex: CEO Axed; CFO Resigns

Fiber-optics company says the top executive failed to work well with the board.
Alan RappeportJuly 7, 2008

Fiber-optics firm Avanex Corp. said that Jo Major, its chief executive, was terminated for failing to get along with the firm’s board. The Fremont, Calif.-based company also said that its CFO, Marla Sanchez, is resigning.

Avanex said in a statement that Major was fired because he and the board failed to “work together effectively.” It was not because of the firm’s performance or financial condition, according to Avanex. Major also resigned from his position on the board.

Major has been CEO of Avanex since 2005, having joined the firm after 14 years at JDS Uniphase Corp. and with SDL Inc. before its merger with JDS in 2001.

Sanchez also previously worked at SDL, serving as controller. Before joining Avanex in 2006 she was interim CFO at a portfolio company for SDL Ventures, a Silicon Valley investment firm specializing in early stage funding for optical technologies.

Representatives for Avanex did not return calls from CFO.com seeking comment. Paul Smith, a current board member, noted in the company’s statement the “difficult transition period” that Major guided the company through during the last several years.

Giovanni Barbarossa was appointed interim CEO of Avanex. He has been with the company since 2000 and served as senior vice president and chief technology officer. The board has started its search for a replacement CEO and CFO, and has created a special unit to review candidates. Smith, a current board member and CEO of PacketMotion Inc., has been appointed non-executive chairman of the board.

Avanex also noted that it is reconfirming its fiscal fourth quarter revenue guidance of between $50 million and $53 million and that it expects to have a positive cash flow in the fourth fiscal quarter.

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