Alcatel-Lucent reached out to a veteran telecom executive, Michel Combes, who spearheaded a $3 billion cost-cutting initiative as Vodafone's chief of finance, to run the struggling equipment maker, the company announced today. Combes, who will join Alcatel on April 1, will replace Ben Verwaayen, who resigned this month as sales continued to fall in a fiercely competitive market. Combes, who also served as France Telecom's head of finance, won high marks from analysts, who nonetheless said he faces an exceptional challenge in turning around Alcatel.

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