XT exec was already due to leave

By Helen Twose

Frank Mount
Frank Mount

The Telecom executive who stepped down in the wake of the company's XT mobile network problems had only months left on his fixed-term contract.

Group chief transformation officer Frank Mount, who resigned on Tuesday morning with immediate effect, was employed in June 2008 on a fixed-term contract expiring on June 8 this year.

A Telecom spokesperson said the company had honoured its contractual obligations to Mr Mount but there were no additional ex gratia payments.

During the 2009 financial year Mr Mount was paid nearly $2 million, including $96,000 to cover travel and accommodation expenses.

Asked on Tuesday whether Mr Mount's resignation made him the "fall guy" for the network's problems, Telecom chief executive Dr Paul Reynolds said: "He was responsible ... for the design and operation of the network and clearly that has not been effective in recent months, so I accepted his resignation."

According to the company's 2009 annual report Mr Mount was one of two Telecom executives on fixed-term contracts.

The other, chief financial officer Russ Houlden, transferred to a contract in November 2008 that is due to expire in September next year.

Mr Houlden, with chief information officer David Havercroft, has taken on some of the responsibilities previously held by Mr Mount.

Also resigning this week was Steve Lowe, who had headed up the New Zealand arm of Alcatel-Lucent, the global telecommunications technology giant behind the XT network, since February 2008.

Speaking to the Herald yesterday, Alcatel-Lucent's Asia-Pacific boss Rajeev Singh-Molares said Mr Lowe's departure was unrelated to the XT problems and that he had been considering leaving the company for some time.

"This was his decision. The timing of it is obviously unfortunate in the sense of it makes it very hard to have people believe that this was not a voluntary decision in that it is happening in the midst of the current problems."

Mr Lowe is staying on at the company for another two weeks to hand over to his replacement Jyoti Mahurkar-Thombre, a US-based Alcatel-Lucent executive.

Mr Singh-Molares said he could not rule out further disruptions to the XT mobile network, recognising the company had failed to create the "world-class" network promised.

"We're working very hard to fix the problems, to stabilise the network. We're bringing in the best resources from across the planet. I think it would be foolhardy for me to say, 'you have my guarantee we're not going to have any problems'," said Mr Singh-Molares.

Mr Singh-Molares denied speculation untested technology and software used by the company in the XT network was behind the problems.

"The technology is proven technology and we're confident in the technology," said Mr Singh-Molares.

- NZ Herald

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