Hunt for new CEO begins as Telstra's Ziggy Switkowski steps down

'Business as usual', says TelstraClear

Telstra's search for a new CEO has begun after incumbent CEO Dr Ziggy Switkowski agreed to step down from the post yesterday.

Switkowski's last day will be July 1, 2005 and possibly even earlier if the telecommunications company can find a suitable replacement. He will depart with a payment of A$2.092 million, as agreed by the terms of his contract.

Telstra chairman Donald McGauchie made the announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday. In a statement he said the Telstra board remains committed to its current strategy and capital management program that was announced in June this year, and said the board will work with Switkowski to implement the strategy over the next six months.

"Dr Switkowski had successfully led the company through a particularly complex and demanding period in the telecommunications industry," McGauchie said. He layered praise on Switkowski for developing an outstanding executive team and for positioning Telstra as a "competitive, full service, integrated telecommunications company that is committed to delivering for its shareholders."

Switkowski says he will leave the post with knowing Telstra is performing well and in "sound shape".

The premature departure of Switkowski won't spill over into executive blood-letting at New Zealand subsidary TelstraClear, the New Zealand operation said yesterday.

TelstraClear spokesman Mathew Bolland says "it's business as usual" at Smales Farm. There is speculation in the industry however that TelstraClear head Rosemary Howard could be asked to fall upon her sword as well. Switkowski is seen as a strong supporter of Howard.

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