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Alcatel-Lucent CEO Verwaayen stepping down as group posts ?1.4 bln loss for 2012

Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen is leaving the loss-making French-U.S. telecommunications gear maker after a failed four-year bid to return it to profit.

Verwaayen said in a statement Thursday that it was "clear to me that now is an appropriate moment" for Alcatel-Lucent to seek new leadership.

The Dutchman's surprise departure comes as Alcatel-Lucent reported losing €1.37 billion last year, compared to a €1.1 billion gain a year earlier.

No details on Verwaayen's replacement were provided. He has agreed to stay on as caretaker until a successor can be found. Alcatel-Lucent said it wll look at candidates both internally and from outside the company.

Verwaayen joined Alcatel-Lucent in 2008 after the ouster of the previous management led by American Patricia Russo. Russo and her French counterpart Serge Tchuruk had masterminded the $11.6 billion merger of Lucent of the U.S. and Alcatel of France. The combined company has racked up many billions of euros in losses since its creation in 2006, something Verwaayen has spent four years trying to reverse.

Alcatel-Lucent supplies telecom operators and corporations the technology for building global communications networks. It has suffered from repeated rounds of costly layoffs and restructuring, as well as intense competition from the likes of Ericsson of Sweden, China's Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks, a Finnish-German joint venture.