Nortel names enterprise chief

Nortel Networks Corp. this week named a 10-year company veteran to head up its enterprise division.

Malcolm Collins, formerly Nortel’s senior executive for the U.K. and Northern European Region, has been appointed president of Enterprise Networks, effective immediately. Collins replaces Frank Plastina, who left Nortel in October after the company split its Metro and Enterprise Networks division into two, creating two separate operational structures to pursue those respective markets.

Plastina had been president, Metro and Enterprise Networks.

Collins will be responsible for all elements of Nortel’s Enterprise business — including business development, products, marketing and sales. He will report directly to CEO and President Frank Dunn.

“We are committed to the long-term success and growth of our Enterprise Networks business,” Dunn said in a statement. “The enterprise market remains a top priority for us.”

Observers questioned Nortel’s commitment to the enterprise network over the past few years, since its US$7 billion acquisition of Bay Networks Inc. in 1998. Since the Bay acquisition, Nortel has steadily lost enterprise market share to Cisco Systems Inc. in LAN switching and routing, and has failed to maintain, much less build upon, the IP routing portfolio inherited from Bay.

But all the while, Nortel expressed its commitment to the enterprise, believing that its hooks into corporate networks would benefit its service provider customers in product and service development. And Nortel’s enterprise business has been one of the few bright spots recently in the beleaguered company’s results, registering the lowest percentage revenue decline — and the only segment in single-digit decline — of any of Nortel’s four divisions in the third quarter.

The other three include Wireline Networks, Wireless Networks and Optical Networks. Enterprise and Wireless are the only businesses to show operating profit for Nortel this year, according to UBS Warburg LLC.

As senior executive for the U.K. and Northern European Region, Collins had financial and customer responsibility across all European accounts spanning the U.K., Ireland, Luxemburg, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Prior to that, Collins led Nortel’s European data business as managing director and general manager. He was responsible for all aspects of business, sales, marketing, support, product line management and operations and service.

He joined Nortel Networks in 1992 as vice president of sales, where his responsibilities included account planning, business planning and product definition for a range of data, voice, and transmission gear.