How Owens Was Replaced

The Globe & Mail has a long feature on how Nortel went about replacing Bill Owens with Mike Zafirovski as CEO. It focuses on how the process was led by chairman Harry Pearce, and how Owens knew it was happening as he planned on retiring. Apparently, Owens played a “charade” by giving everyone the impression he intended to stay on as CEO. If this is true he should head to Hollywood because he had a lot of people fooled. If you look at some of the statements Owens made when asked about his plans by analysts, it was clear he was enjoying being CEO of a large company – a gig he waited 10 years to get after leaving the U.S. Navy. And the whole fiasco with Gary Daichendt, who left after three months as COO in May, was focused on Daichendt’s desire to become CEO and Owens’ intentions to stay on. According to Daichendt, Owens did not want to retire. Finally, at the press conference to announce Zafirovski’s appointment, Pearce said that Owens was involved in the hunt for a new CEO but Owens admitted he didn’t meet Mike Z. until three days earlier. It’s all a very strange tale but nothing surprises at Nortel.
 
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