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Uniphase Chairman, Citing Health Concerns, Announces Retirement


SAN JOSE — JDS Uniphase Corp. Chief Executive and Chairman Kevin Kalkhoven, a key architect in building the world's No. 1 supplier of parts for fiber-optic telecom equipment, said Thursday he has retired to pursue a slower pace.

The company named Jozef Straus, president and chief operating officer, to succeed Kalkhoven, who said he would advise Straus on a part-time basis until the close of fiscal 2001.

"I'm a little bit burned out," Kalkhoven, 55, said in an interview. "I'm the kind of guy who can only run at 100%, and I couldn't back off to 80."

Charles Abbe, who joined the company as part of this year's acquisition of Optical Coating Laboratory Inc., will take over as president and COO.

Kalkhoven said he needs to slow down. Several years of working 100-hour weeks resulted in high blood pressure and prompted his doctor to recommend a medical leave. Instead, he'll stay a strategic advisor to Straus until July 2001.

Kalkhoven, who was co-chairman with Straus, joined the former Uniphase Corp. as CEO in 1992 and built the company up from a tiny maker of gas lasers by making 15 acquisitions to gain the parts feeding the commercial explosion of fiber optics.

JDS Uniphase stock has surged 345-fold since Uniphase went public in 1993 and more than quadrupled since Kalkhoven merged his company with Straus' JDS Fitel Inc. last year.

"Kevin has shaped this industry almost as much as [Intel Corp. co-founder] Gordon Moore did in the microprocessor world," said Phillip Lamoreaux, whose Lamoreaux Partners bought its JDS Uniphase stake in the Uniphase IPO. "But I don't think the company misses a beat."

Straus, 53, a refugee from Soviet-era Czechoslovakia, inherits a company whose biggest challenge is boosting production to meet demand from customers such as Nortel Networks Corp. and Lucent Technologies Inc.

Straus has been in charge of production since the merger, while Kalkhoven focused on acquisitions.

Straus co-founded JDS Fitel in 1981 and built it into a $150-million-a-year business.

San Jose-based JDS Uniphase fell $5.94 to close at $86.56 in heavy trading volume on Nasdaq.

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