Novell names new No. 2 exec

Ron Hovsepian, named president and COO, is said to be in charge of an expected major restructuring.

Novell, a server software company under pressure from investors to introduce management and structural reforms, on Tuesday promoted Ron Hovsepian to be its president and chief operating officer.
Ron Hovsepian
Ron Hovsepian

Hovsepian, 44, formerly executive vice president and president of global field operations, has been a key force in financial reforms at the company since he joined Novell in June 2003. He initially revamped the U.S. sales force, then moved to European operations after a May promotion.

According to a source familiar with the company, Hovsepian is the executive in charge of Novell's anticipated major restructuring. The company is expected to cut about 20 percent of its employees, pare back some divisions and withdraw from some geographical regions.

News of that restructuring is expected as soon as this week, sources have said. Novell's fiscal year ended Monday.

Novell has been without a No. 2 executive since the departure of Vice Chairman Chris Stone in 2004.

Hovsepian, who worked at IBM for 17 years, gave some indication of his priorities in a statement.

"Since joining Novell, I've remained convinced that we have a tremendous opportunity to provide leadership in the market as organizations around the globe embrace open standards and open source as a way to improve their operating results," he said. "I'm grateful for the strong support we continue to receive from customers and partners and I am confident that our employees will deliver value to our shareholders."

A significant shareholder, Blum Capital Partners, has urged major changes at Novell. And the pressure extends to Chief Executive Jack Messman: Credit Suisse First Boston in an open letter published in September.

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