Cabletron chief executive and co-founder Craig Benson resigned today, finally making the struggling company an extremely attractive acquisition target.
Benson, 46, who founded the networking company in 1983, then rejoined as chief executive in 1998, had been widely expected to resign after failing to turn around the company's flagging financial performance or find a suitable buyer for the company.
His replacement is Piyush Patel, former head of Yago Systems, the switching company acquired by Cabletron last year. Patel, appointed president, chairman and chief executive, said loyal customers, talented staff and good products would assure the company's future success.
Benson said that during his short stay at the top he had achieved his goal of making the company more focussed. But analysts said his departure is more of a blessing than a loss for Cabletron.
"Benson was a classic case of the entrepreneurial guy who held on to the reigns too long," said Jim Slaby, senior analyst at Giga Information Group. "Craig Benson at the helm was one of the last obstacles to Cabletron getting acquired."
"This is a very encouraging sign for Cabletron all round," added Slaby. "What Patel's appointment represents is a serious try by the board of directors to clear the slate and clear out the old guard that made Cabletron a very poor acquisition prospect."
Alcatel, Ericsson and Nortel are the telecoms equipment players Giga most hotly tips to bid for Cabletron. IBM is seen by Giga as the most likely networking industry outsider.
"Cabletron is one of the few remaining enterprise IP players that's left to pick up and somebody from the telecoms service provider space is likely to pounce on it now," said Slaby.
In March, Cabletron reported another weak financial quarter and said it would lay off hundreds of staff as it outsourced most of its electronics manufacturing.
Cabletron has historically found business tough going, with a narrow product line, weak marketing and channel sales, as well as battling against reduced demand for devices such as hubs.
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