New Telecom CEO welcomed by industry and government

Filling of post greeted with cautious optimism

The appointment of Paul Reynolds as Telecom’s new CEO was welcomed by industry peers and Communications Minister David Cunliffe last week.

Vodafone CEO Russell Stanners congratulated Telecom on making the appointment and says he looks forward to working constructively with Reynolds on the unbundling process.

Reynolds brings with him two-and-half decades worth of experience from BT, including the era during which the UK incumbent voluntarily underwent operational separation and unbundling.

This, says Ernie Newman of telecommunications lobby group TUANZ, is very positive. “We’re pleased with Reynolds’ appointment,” Newman says. “His experience with operational separation at BT should help mould Telecom in its new role as defined by the new regulation,” says Newman.

Overall, Reynolds should be good for Telecom, Newman says, and points to BT being very happy with the outcome of its voluntary separation, as among other things, it is now able to see where the efficiencies and inefficiences in its business lie.

Communications Minister David Cunliffe issued a cautious welcome for Reynolds, saying the choice of CEO is entirely a matter for Telecom’s board and a process in which the government has no role.

“I am aware that Dr Reynolds comes with a very strong reputation and is recognised to have played a leading role in BT’s operational separation process,” Cunliffe says. He says he looks forward to working closely with Reynolds, to “get the best oucome for New Zealand and to remove any uncertainties from the market as soon as possible.”

Cunliffe also expressed a desire to meet Reynolds as soon as possible.

Telecom’s new CEO will be based in Auckland, a break from past practice of stationing of top management in Wellington. Phil Love, media manager at Telecom, says the new CEO will shuttle between Auckland, Wellington and Sydney, meeting with customers in the three cities.

This, Love says, means little has changed in terms of the company’s business focus.

Asked if Telecom was looking at building or acquiring new premises for its Auckland headquarters, or remaining in existing ones, Love said this would be a decision for Reynolds to make.

Research director David Kennedy of analyst firm Ovum says Reynolds is very well-positioned for the role, as the BT model is the reference point for New Zealand. “When he takes up his new job, he’ll be the person in the country who knows the most about it,” Kennedy says.

However, Kennedy doesn’t expect Reynolds to take any drastic measures initially, but to spend time acquainting himself with the business and interested parties.

New Zealand’s second-largest telco — and big Telecom wholesale customer — TelstraClear was approached for comment on Reynolds appointment by Computerworld, but spokesman Mathew Bolland said it had nothing to say on the matter.

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