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Current as of 09/12/16 07:39PM NZST
Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

Chorus CEO stepping down

Mark Ratcliffe will be stepping down from the position as chief executive of Chorus around the middle of next year.
Mark Ratcliffe will be stepping down from the position as chief executive of Chorus around the middle of next year.

Chief executive of Chorus Mark Ratcliffe has announced he will step down from the role around the middle of next year.

Ratcliffe was CEO of the company when it was a business unit within Telecom and led the demerger in 2011.

He has since then steered Chorus' role in the nationweide Ultra Fast Broadband initiative and fibre roll-out.

The announcement comes as Chorus this morning reported a net profit after tax of $91 million, unchanged from a year earlier, and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $594 million for the year ended 30 June 2016.

The fibre roll-out is now 57 per cent completed. The company has recently said it has struggled to find qualified staff to cope with the roll-out as well as regular winter weather interferences to its copper network.

Ratcliffe said Chorus' financial result was impacted by five and a half months of lower regulated pricing for copper services. The Commerce Commission's review of regulated pricing for Chorus' key copper services, completed in December 2015, provided a better pricing path to 2020 than the initial bench marked pricing.

"Ebitda of $594 million is in the top half of guidance, reflecting continued good cost management across the business, and dividends were resumed in February 2016," Ratcliffe said.

Since the demerger in 2011 Chorus has invested about $2.9 billion in capital expenditure, with $593m of that during FY16, Ratcliffe said.

Chorus Chairman Patrick Strange thanked Ratcliffe for providing a long notice period.

"Mark remains fully committed to his responsibilities as CEO and retains the full backing of the Board. I have no doubt that he will continue to drive Chorus for the next year with the same passion and energy that he always has," Strange said.

The company declared a final dividend of 12 cents a share, making 20 cents for the year, after it resumed payments for the first time since the original commission ruling on regulated pricing forced it to slash costs and seek changes to its broadband rollout contract with the government. Its guidance for 2017 is 21 cents.

The stock last traded at $4.63 and has climbed 18 percent this year.

- with BusinessDesk

- NZ Herald

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