Ciena beefs up European force

Linthicum firm hires 3 executives, opens demo lab in London

January 26, 2002|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,SUN STAFF

Ciena Corp., the Linthicum fiber-optics equipment maker, said yesterday that it had opened a customer demonstration lab in London and hired three new executives for its regional management team in Europe.

The overseas expansion comes at a time when the economy - and particularly the telecom sector - has been struggling.

"Certainly, based on the situation in North America, the company is adding to its efforts overseas, there's no doubt about that," said Ciena spokesman Glenn Jasper. "And Europe looks like there's significant opportunity there."

The new hires and the 6,000-square-foot demonstration lab were also a natural move for a company like Ciena, which has to consider international expansion as it grows, Jasper said.

Rick Schafer, a research analyst for CIBC World Markets, said several companies in the telecommunications market are looking for growth overseas - particularly in Europe and Asia - as the United States market goes through a downturn.

"Even some of the Nortels of the world and the Lucents of the world are looking more overseas," Schafer said.

Schafer said that even as companies lay off workers in an effort to lighten one part of their business, it still makes sense to bolster another part with the hopes that it will lead to growth. (Ciena laid off 380 employees, or about 10 percent of its work force, in November.)

The new executives at Ciena have already started working. Steve Whipps came from Cisco Systems Inc. to work in London for Ciena. Justo Montero, who was formerly with Nortel Networks Corp., is based in Spain. Bernard Plaisant, also formerly with Nortel, works in France.

The new demonstration lab in London is connected to offices Ciena moved into about a month ago, which are also the company's European headquarters. Ciena also has a demonstration lab for customers at its Linthicum headquarters.

The London lab has a fiber-optic network, so customers can see a live simulation of what Ciena's equipment does.

"It's really going to be helpful because we can bring customers and customer prospects right from our office to this demo lab, where they can understand how our equipment can help them," Jasper said.

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