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3Com CEO To Lead In China

Robert Mao's assignment follows a failed three-way deal involving 3Com, Huawei Technologies, and Bain Capital Partners.

After struggling for years to beef up its management presence in China, as of Wednesday, 3Com will have a new CEO based in the country.

Robert Mao, former president and CEO of Nortel's Greater China unit, was named to replace Edgar Masri, who is leaving 3Com. Mao, who has been serving as a 3Com director, previously served as a 3Com executive VP from August 2006 to March 2007.

Ronald Sege, who also formerly worked at 3Com, was named president and chief operating officer of the company. He will work out of the company's headquarters in suburban Boston and will report to Mao.

Earlier attempts to locate much of 3Com's management operations in China failed when the U.S. government's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) indicated it would block a complicated three-way deal involving 3Com, Huawei Technologies, and Bain Capital Partners. The issue for CFIUS, which represents U.S. intelligence and defense agencies, was 3Com's TippingPoint unit, which produces sensitive security products.

After the complicated deal collapsed, 3Com said it would seek a $66 million breakup fee from Bain.

Now, 3Com's top manager is moving to China, where most of its employees already work. As for the TippingPoint unit, the company said Sege will "seek to maximize the value of its TippingPoint business."

Throughout the Byzantine negotiations, 3Com said its partnership with Huawei remained solid and that 3Com's H3C operation continued to function well. H3C, which operates a 4,500-person factory and research facility in China, sells routers, modular switches, and stackable switches to Huawei.

"Bob [Mao] brings the company a set of skills that are uniquely fitted to 3Com's current business needs," said Eric Benhamou, 3Com's board chairman, in a statement. "In addition to his 30 years in the global IT and telecommunications industry, Bob's bicultural background, extensive business experience in Asia, and fluency in Mandarin and English offer a rare set of skills that can bridge Chinese and Western organizations."

Mao holds degrees from Cornell and MIT. He pointed to the H3C operation as the key to 3Com's future. "In less than five years, H3C has built a broad, world-class portfolio of networking, video, and storage solutions and gained market share leadership in China. Our objective now is to combine the strength and momentum of H3C with 3Com's global customer base, well-recognized brand, service and support infrastructure, and proven distribution channel."

Sege, who worked in a variety of senior management positions at 3Com from 1989 to 1998, recently served as president and CEO of wireless networking provider Tropos Networks.

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