Marconi silence feeds rumors

May 23, 2001

Rumors are the stuff of celebrity gossip, conspiracy theories, and UFOs. It can be argued that they have no place in healthcare. But the flap over the possible sale of Marconi Medical has laid that hope to rest. DI SCAN has remained mute on the

Rumors are the stuff of celebrity gossip, conspiracy theories, and UFOs. It can be argued that they have no place in healthcare. But the flap over the possible sale of Marconi Medical has laid that hope to rest. DI SCAN has remained mute on the topic since speculation first appeared on the heels of parent company Marconi PLC’s decision in mid-April to move Marconi Medical to its Capital division, which in the past has served as a kind of limbo for parts of the company being readied for sale. Marconi executives have refused comment to DI SCAN. The company has been similarly silent to other media, whose articles on the topic have appeared without statements from Marconi executives.

What Marconi seems not to fully understand is that the media, like nature, abhor a vacuum. Marconi’s silence has led some information outlets to let their imaginations run wild. The result has not always been favorable to Marconi. One well-respected publication described the company’s business as “ailing” and quoted sources that described the company as weakening.

My sources at Marconi and at the company’s suppliers confirm that Marconi Medical is not “ailing” but in fact is having a very good year. The company has focused on its most lucrative offerings, while finding ways to cut R&D costs and extend its range of products within select areas through corporate partnerships. The most recent is the deal with CTI PET Systems to supply PET scanners (see cover story).

Marconi’s strength is not going to be recognized, however, if the company refuses to address the sale issue. Just acknowledging the facts would provide the opportunity for Marconi to put its own spin on the story-to reassure corporate partners and customers. But corporate policy, I’m told, is to say nothing.

Meanwhile Marconi executives get roiled over what they see as misuse of media stories by some of their competitors. They lament that customers are being sent these articles. The nut of the problem, however, may be Marconi’s failure to tell its side of the story. In a world where perception can dictate reality, Marconi is playing a dangerous game, putting at risk equipment sales and critical alliances, as well as key personnel who might seek new employment in light of an uncertain future.