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Tellabs Chairman Michael Birck Says He Has Cancer, Will Retire

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Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Tellabs Inc. co-founder and Chairman Michael J. Birck said he was recently diagnosed with leukemia and will not seek re-election to the company’s board.

Birck is the second Tellabs executive to be diagnosed with cancer this year. Rob Pullen, then Tellabs’ chief executive officer, said in April that he had started treatment for colon cancer. He died at age 50 last month.

“This year has been particularly difficult,” Birck said today in a statement. Birck has started chemotherapy for chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, which he said is a treatable but not curable form of the bone marrow disease.

Birck, who has been with Tellabs for more than 35 years, said he feels good and will continue to work. “I will be actively engaged with our board and our talented management team,” he said. Birck plans to retire from Tellabs next spring after the board meeting.

Birck, a former employee at AT&T’s Bell Telephone Laboratories, helped start Tellabs in the 1970s. The Naperville, Illinois-based company makes telephone-system equipment for carriers such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Moritz in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at