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Nortel's President and Chief Executive Officer John Roth is planning to retire in April 2002, and the company will immediately start searching for a new CEO, a statement said. Meanwhile, Chief Operating Officer Clarence Chandran is resigning with immediate effect.
The changes at the top come as the company confirmed it will shut down its DSL business.
"We are getting out of the copper and voice broadband access market immediately to focus on, and invest in, high-growth markets such as optical Ethernet," said Ben Roome, a company spokesman in London.
The market for copper and voice broadband access, including digital subscriber line (DSL), does not "meet our business criteria for high-growth markets", he added.
Current customers will still get support "under warranty", Roome said, but they will not be able to buy any more DSL products from Nortel. Current customers include carriers who offer network services as well as corporations.
Roome could not say how many workers would lose their jobs as a result, although he confirmed that the expected job cuts were part of the 20,000 redundancies already announced.
In addition, the financially troubled networking vendor is facing the immediate resignation of Chandran. The COO is stepping down for medical reasons; Chandran is still recovering from an incident in 1997 when he was the victim of a stabbing in Singapore.
The Canada-based company in April reported a net loss of $385m (£271m) for the first quarter of 2000.
Visit Nortel at http://www.nortelnetworks.com/ .