ECI CEO Rafi Maor becomes chairman

Rafi Maor: "This is a step toward a flotation." Keter Plastic CEO Shimon Bart will be appointed ECI CEO.

There is a change in leadership at Israel's ECI Telecom Ltd., a developer of next-generation network solutions. After almost six years as president and CEO, Rafi has replaced Shaul Shani, the company's controlling shareholder, as chairman. Shani will stay on as chairman of ECI Telecom's parent company ECI Holding Ltd. Maor is being replaced, effective immediately, as president and CEO by Shimon Bart, who was formerly CEO Keter Plastic Ltd. - IPG.

ECI currently has 3,000 employees, including 1,600 in Israel. The company's new development center in Beersheva has 100 employees.

Maor joined ECI as acting CEO in 2004, with the objective of succeeding then-president and CEO Doron Inbar. During Maor's term as CEO, ECI underwent major restructuring, beginning with its acquisition by Shaul Shani's Swarth Group for $1.24 billion in late 2007.

In the past year, ECI strengthened its balance sheet by completing repayment of the loan taken by Swarth Group from Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE: CS; SWX: CSGN; XETRA: CSGZ) to acquire ECI and which was placed on the company. Maor says that ECI is planning to unveil new products which will substantially increase its potential market by the end of the year.

On the other hand, ECI was badly hurt by the economic crisis and by competition from Chinese telecommunications equipment makers Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. (HKSE: 0763; Shenchen: 0063), which reduced ECI's sales to $600-700 million, as well as affecting its valuation.

"After the acquisition, Shaul and I discussed where to go," Maor told "Globes". "We decided that we would first build value for the company and in the second stage we'd increase the value and hold a flotation. We agreed that I would continue as CEO, and later, toward the flotation, I'd become chairman and I could focus on strategy and breaking into various markets."

Maor says that ECI plans to return to Wall Street toward mid-2012. "ECI's return to the capital market requires a slightly different focus by the company," he says.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on June 13, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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