No date for restatement, says Nortel chief

Nortel Networks officials admitted that they have no idea how long it will take to restate the company's accounts for 2003 and...

Nortel Networks officials admitted that they have no idea how long it will take to restate the company's accounts for 2003 and for the first quarter of 2004, as they outlined their short-term priorities to restore confidence in the company yesterday.

In April, Nortel fired chief executive officer Frank Dunn, appointing Bill Owens in his place, and announced it would delay reporting its first-quarter results pending an independent review of the figures. The company had planned to report the results on 29 April 29, but there is no telling when they will be reported now.

"'How long' is one of those questions that we can't answer now," Owens said "We are not prepared to give any indication of how long this is going to take."

Owens did say that Nortel would be more open about other matters, however, promising to issue bi-weekly updates on the company's financial health beginning this week, as required by the Ontario Securities Commission in Canada.

In the short term, Owens' has five goals:

  • Complete the restatement of results;
  • Fix internal systems to report financial results accurately and transparently in future;
  • Drive revenue growth;
  • Set up a core marketing unit to unify the company's communication on technology, and
  • Boost cash reserves while cutting costs.

Cost reduction "doesn't necessarily mean employee reduction", Owens said. Over the past few years, Nortel has cut employee numbers from 100,000 to around 35,000.

Since his appointment, Owens has been visiting employees and customers around the world, trying to reassure them about the company's future. During his travels, he said, customers and employees alike have told him they would stick with Nortel.

Peter Sayer writes for IDG News Service

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