Bookham prize for new CFO

In October 2001, the computer hardware company specialising in silicon optical components, saw the nomination of its first chief financial officer.

US-born Steve Abely joined the company with 20 years’ experience in senior financial positions.

Prior to joining Bookham, Abely was CFO of Arescom Technology, a privately-owned broadband access equipment provider. Investors in New York and London were cheered by the announcement as many believed the technology meltdown was down to few companies in the sector having accounting experts heading the finances.

Abely will see the results of its new customer accounts, Fujitsu and NEC, which account for 63% of Bookham’s revenue, while Nortel Networks represents 27%. Despite new customers, the company’s third-quarter revenue was £2.4m, down 69% from 2000.

Abely will closely monitor the progress of Bookham’s restructuring programme.

Excluding research and development, it has reduced expenses by 19% to £6.8m. It claims to have reduced cash burn in the second quarter from £24.3m to £15.5m. According to Bookham, its ‘cash position remains strong, with £199.7m at the end of the quarter’.

The company is putting high hopes on its latest product, 40 Gb/s Optical Channel Monitor, a silicon chip that incorporates three optical functions, believing it is the first of its kind.

In what has been a difficult year for the industry, Bookham has said it expects to see revenues flat for its fourth quarter compared to last year.

In October, president & chief executive officer Giorgio Anania remained upbeat about Bookham’s future, despite seeing pre-tax losses for the third quarter soar from £6.36m to £13.56m. He says: ‘Notwithstanding low revenues, which had been expected, this quarter has been one of successful execution against our announced strategy.

‘We’ve completed the top management team, shown we can control our cash burn, continued to invest in R&D to expand our product line and moved forward on design-ins with key customers. We are moving to turn this into revenues going forward when the industry recovers.’

Next year, analysts will look at the progress of Marconi’s optical components – Bookham’s recent, discounted, purchase. –

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