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Nortel executives change places

Company executives play musical chairs as one becomes the company's new chief marketing and strategy officer and another leaves to run an Internet security company.

Nortel Networks' executives played musical chairs Monday as one became the company's new chief marketing and strategy officer and another left to run an Internet security company.

Nortel appointed Anil Khatod, president of Nortel's global Internet division, as the company's new chief marketing and strategy officer. Khatod, who previously oversaw all of Nortel's Internet-related product groups, will now be in charge of the company's overall business and technology strategies.

The company also said nine-year Nortel veteran William Conner will leave to become chief executive of security company Entrust Technologies. Conner was previously president of Nortel's e-business division and was the company's first chief marketing officer. To replace Conner, Nortel has promoted Joseph Davis, who worked in Nortel's e-business division.

The executive shuffle comes amid hard financial times that have afflicted Nortel and its networking rivals Cisco Systems and Lucent Technologies. Like its competitors, Nortel has been hit hard by the U.S. economic slowdown, as the Canadian telephone equipment maker recently announced a cost-cutting plan that includes layoffs of 20,000 employees and the discontinuation of slow-growing businesses.

"One of our major competitors is in serious trouble and the second has lost its shine," said Khatod, referring to Lucent and Cisco, respectively, in an interview. "And many of our start-up competitors are having problems finding funding. Everyone is struggling, but the question is who will come out lighter, faster and better as a company? It's an opportunity for us to come out lighter, in terms of expenses, and faster, in terms of technology."

Khatod, who will report directly to Nortel Chief Executive John Roth, said Nortel will continue to focus on fast-growing markets, such as wireless and optical networking equipment. The company is in the midst of deciding which slow-growth products to kill off, he added.

Khatod added that the company still plans to spin off its components business, but will wait until the market recovers.