Cisco Rings Management Changes

SAN JOSE, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Cisco's ( CSCO) Chief Strategy Officer Ned Hooper is leaving the company to form an investment partnership firm, the networking giant announced on Tuesday.

One of Cisco's star executives, Hooper was seen as a potential successor to CEO John Chambers. The mastermind of Cisco's M&A strategy, Hooper was also touted as a possible HP ( HPQ) CEO after the ouster of Mark Hurd in 2010.
Cisco announced executive management changes on Tuesday.

Precise details on Hooper's new endeavor have yet to be revealed, although it seems that he will maintain a link with Cisco in his new role.

"After 13 years of exceptional service to Cisco, Ned Hooper will be leaving the immediate Cisco family to form an independent investment partnership company and to pursue his goal to be a principal investor," explained Chambers, in a blog post on Tuesday. "Ned has been working on his plan with us over a number of months, and we look forward to partnering with him in his new endeavor."

Chambers also explained that Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior is expanding her role to become the company's chief technology and strategy officer. "She will be responsible for identifying customer and industry transitions and determining Cisco's strategy to address them," explained Chambers. "Additionally, Padma will be responsible for thought leadership around Cisco's products and architectures, technical talent development and recruiting, and she will increase her time with external stakeholders."

The CEO also explained that Pankaj Patel, senior vice president for engineering and general manager of the company's service provider business, will assume leadership of Cisco's engineering organization.

Cisco shares closed down 0.71% at $16.82 in Tuesday's regular session trading.

At least one analyst, though, thinks that investors should not read too much into Cisco's management changes.

"While we favor stability in the leadership ranks, we do not believe these changes were motivated by new execution/competitive challenges or strategic shifts," explained ISI Group analyst Brian Marshall, in a note. "In our view, Cisco is continuing to streamline the organization and consolidating responsibility for engineering, technology vision and strategy with two executives rather than three previously."

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Marshall has a 'neutral' rating on the San Jose, Calif.-based firm.

Cisco, which is emerging from a from a turbulent period marred by poor execution and consumer spending pressure, recently eased past Wall Street's third-quarter estimates. Investors, however, balked at the company's weaker-than-expected guidance.

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

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