Howard's end - Freeth replacement at TelstraClear

Former CEO of Wrightson to take over

TelstraClear has announced that chief executive Rosemary Howard will step down on April 16, to be replaced by Dr Alan Freeth, former CEO and managing director of Wrightson.

Howard will take up the position of managing director of voice and convergence at Telstra headquarters in Australia. The role is within Telstra's Technology Innovation and Products Group, and Howard's portfolio will be worth over A$8 billion in voice product revenues.

That Howard would be shunted sideways was expected by some industry observers, but the suddenness of the move so soon after Telstra chairman Ziggy Switkowski's departure still took some analysts by surprise.

IDC's telecommunications analyst Chris Loh says the "out of the blue" change at the TelstraClear helm may have been caused by an "overfocus on battling Telecom through achieving regulatory change. TelstraClear has been constrained in the last couple of years, as it relies on a third party - the government - to referee on regulatory issues," Loh says. He adds that while TelstraClear has had some success gaining access to more business this way, it has held back technology rollouts like a mobile phone network.

Asked whether Howard's departure was the prelude to a privatised Telstra selling its New Zealand subsidiary with Freeth in charge of finding a buyer, Loh says it is a possibility as everything "is up in the air" at the moment.

Howard's replacement as chief executive, Dr Alan Freeth, comes from farming, real estate and R&D group Wrightson. Freeth has for the past year been a member of TelstraClear's Advisory Committee.

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