Tellabs chairman Michael J. Birck to retire next year

Company's founder is battling leukemia
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Birck (Image
source: Tellabs)

Michael Birck, Tellabs' (Nasdaq: TLAB) current chairman and founder, on Friday announced he would retire following the 2013 annual stockholders meeting.

Birck has been diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML), a rare form of bone marrow cancer that is typically diagnosed in people over the age of 60.

"I have occasionally thought of the day when I would step down as Chairman and fully retire from Tellabs.  I had not reached that decision until now," he said in a statement. "Today I advised our Board that I will not seek re-election to the Board of Directors at our Annual Meeting next spring, and that I will retire at that time."

Birck added that he will continue to remain active with the board and management until after the annual shareholders meeting while receiving treatment.

Following jobs at the former AT&T (NYSE: T) Bell Telephone Laboratories and Wecom, Birck founded Tellabs in 1975. He served in three key roles at Tellabs: president and CEO from 1975-2000; CEO from 2002-2004; and chairman from 2000-present.

In the spring of 1975, Birck and five other engineers founded Tellabs in a kitchen table in suburban Chicago with a name they said combined telephones and laboratories. The company initially became known for developing echo suppressors, which later became known as echo cancellers, which service providers use to suppress echoes on phone calls.

Rob Pullen, Tellabs' CEO, passed away earlier this year after a battle with colon cancer. Dan Kelly, Tellabs' executive vice president of global products, has been serving as the company's acting president and CEO.

For more:
- see this statement

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