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Nortel Workers ‘Relieved’ As Ciena Takes Over

Former Nortel Metro Ethernet Networks workers seem to be taking well to life at new employer and former rival Ciena Corp. (CIEN).

On Thursday, Baltimore-based Ciena threw a company-wide party in Canada to celebrate the close of the $774 million deal that doubled Ciena’s size. There was a hot buffet luncheon, music and an upbeat speech from Ciena CEO Gary Smith to launch the new combined company. But most of all, there was a sense of relief for the many Nortel experts who have watched colleagues lose their jobs and suffered the other roller-coaster effects of Nortel’s notorious bankruptcy.

“The last years have been tough but we are finally coming out of a long tunnel,” Geoffrey Greene, a long-time Nortel worker, told the Ottawa Citizen. “Part of me is sorry to see a great Canadian company go. But this gives us a second life and Ciena was the best outcome of all the alternatives.”

Even though Ciena and Nortel have had their share of patent spats over the years, and survived mutual accusations of employee-hijacking, as the Ottawa Citizen put it, workers appear ready to transcend those matters and get down to business. And Ciena plans to spend $180 million integrating Nortel this year – and not by handing out pink slips, putting to rest fears about further layoffs.

“Even our customers seem relieved at the combination with Ciena,” Al Lounsbury, a sales executive, told the Ottawa Citizen. “They have been just as uncertain about the future as we have been.”


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