3Com's CEO, Bruce Claflin, to step down

He will help in the search for a replacement

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3Com Corp. announced today that CEO Bruce Claflin will retire once a replacement is found.

Claflin will participate in the search for a new CEO along with independent directors on the 3Com board, according to a statement by Marlboro, Mass.-based 3Com. Once a new CEO is found, Claflin will act as a senior adviser to whomever is hired for six months to ensure a smooth transition.

3Com Chairman Eric Benhamou praised Claflin's tenure, which began in January 2001. Claflin had worked previously at Digital Equipment Corp and IBM.

"Under Bruce's leadership, 3Com developed a strategy to become a leading global provider of secure converged networking solutions for small, medium and large enterprises," Benhamou said in a statement. "In support of that strategy, 3Com implemented ... our joint venture with Huawei. Furthermore, Bruce established 3Com as a leader in a high-growth market for network security through the TippingPoint acquisition.

"Moving forward, the 3Com board intends to recruit a CEO who can build on the positive trends of the past few quarters as we ... drive 3Com toward profitable growth," he said.

In a statement, Claflin, emphasized his commitment to put 3Com on sound financial footing. "Over the past few years we have made solid progress in the execution of our strategy," he said. "With the improving financial performance of the company in recent quarters ... the company is well positioned for future growth. These improvements, coupled with my personal retirement objectives, make this a good time to transition to new leadership."

The company said again that it plans to reach a "break-even model" by the end of the fiscal quarter in February 2007.

Analysts have worried about 3Com in the past year, despite the promise of the joint venture with Huawei and other developments. "I think it's good for 3Com to get a fresh start," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group Research Inc. in Boston. "Bruce probably took them as far as he could."

Part of 3Com's difficulties with users have stemmed from a decision to abandon the enterprise market and then to re-enter it when Claflin arrived, analysts have said.

Claflin's successor will also serve as chairman of the board of directors of Huawei-3Com Co., the Hong Kong-based joint venture between 3Com and Huawei Technologies Co.

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