Alcatel role reunites Bland and Verwaayen

The former BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland has joined Alcatel-Lucent, a move that re-unites him with Ben Verwaayen, who was chief executive of the UK telecoms giant for much of the same period.

Alcatel-Lucent, a telecoms infrastructure company listed in the US and France, yesterday announced Sir Christopher's appointment as non-executive chairman for its UK and Irish operation, with immediate effect.

The newly created role means that Sir Christopher will oversee the division, as well as work with the company's largest customers, including BT, and look to bring in new commercial opportunities.

"Alcatel-Lucent is a global player with extraordinary reach and depth. I look forward to seeing that reach and depth matched in the UK and Ireland market," he said.

He served as chairman of the BBC board of governors for six years, a role that followed more than a decade as chairman of of the TV franchise LWT. He has also acted as a senior adviser to the private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

He was chairman of BT between 2001 and 2007. Alcatel-Lucent's group chief executive, Ben Verwaayen, had the same role at BT between 2002 and 2008.

The company said yesterday that it is also bringing in the former BT executive Lucy Dimes as chief executive of the UK and Irish operation, succeeding Lakh Jemmett.

Alcatel-Lucent said it is a "major employer" in the UK and Ireland, where it pioneers the development of cables that can be run under the sea, "bringing broadband around the world".

Sir Christopher revealed last month that he was to leave his role as chairman of the Royal Shakespeare Company before October.

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