Telecom's new CEO: Simon Moutter

New Telecom chief executive and managing director Simon Moutter. Photo / NZ Herald
New Telecom chief executive and managing director Simon Moutter. Photo / NZ Herald

Telecom has appointed current Auckland International Airport chief executive Simon Moutter as its new chief executive and managing director.

He will take over the role on September 1 this year.

Moutter is currently CEO of Auckland International Airport and has previously held senior roles at Telecom, including Chief Operating Officer. Before that he was chief executive at Powerco.

The appointment ends speculation Gen-I boss Chris Quin was the top contender for the job, and is part of a rejuvenation that's seen Mark Verbiest take over as chairman now the Chorus network unit has been carved out as a stand-alone entity.

Outgoing boss Paul Reynolds replaced Theresa Gattung in 2007 after the company's relationship with the government broke down, and former Telecommunications Minister David Cunliffe forced operational separation between the network and retail units. Reynolds was brought in after overseeing a similar split at BT in the UK.

Reynolds flagged his exit in August, ending his five-year tenure at the country's biggest telecommunications company that included structural separation of the Chorus unit into a separately listed entity.

Telecom put forward the prospect of structural separation last year in a bid to shed the heavy regulatory burden of operating a copper-line network monopoly, and to win tax-payer funding to build a nationwide fibre network.

That bid was successful, and Chorus won $929 million of the $1.35 billion on offer from the government to roll-out an ultra-fast broadband network.

In a statement released by Telecom this morning, chairman Verbiest said Moutter's knowledge of the telecommunications industry in New Zealand was strong and deep, and he was a proven CEO of a significant listed organisation.

"He has also demonstrated that he can deliver growth in a challenging environment by transforming the customer experience at Auckland International Airport," he said.

"As such, the Telecom board is confident Simon has the right skill-set to lead Telecom as it adapts to the opportunities and challenges driven by significant changes to its structure and operating environment."

"The recruitment process has been extremely robust, conducted over a period of several months, and many high calibre candidates were attracted to the role. Ultimately the board was unanimous that Simon was the best candidate, and we are delighted to have secured his services," said Verbiest.

"It is also pleasing that the best candidate for the job has been shown to be a New Zealander.

"Simon has a proven ability to lead companies in developing and delivering compelling services for customers.

"He was instrumental in the transformation of Telecom in the early 2000s, where the company pushed strongly into the IT services sector with the acquisition and expansion of Gen-i, the turnaround of Telecom mobile, and the roll-out of nation-wide broadband services."

In the same release, Moutter said he was excited to be returning to Telecom.

"I feel privileged to be selected to lead a resurgent Telecom as it reshapes for success in an even more dynamic communications services market post the demerger," he said.

"I am looking forward to returning to the telecommunications industry, where Telecom, now subject to significantly less regulation, is free to focus on delivering world class products and services to our customers throughout New Zealand."

Auckland Airport chair Joan Withers said that under Moutter's leadership, Auckland Airport had transformed its business model and focus to one of providing a world class service to all who use the airport.

"He has also built a talented and dedicated team of senior management who have consistently focused on achieving commercial strategies to deliver on the Airport's "Flight Plan to Growth".

"For shareholders this has delivered solid returns during a period of unprecedented global market upheaval and provided excellent value to passengers, business partners and New Zealand.

She said the board would immediately begin a process to consider internal, local and international candidates to replace Moutter.

Auckland Airport's chief financial officer Simon Robertson would become acting chief executive when Simon Moutter leaves the company at the end of his four month notice period. Robertson joined the company in 2005 and held a range of senior financial and aeronautical roles until his appointment as chief financial officer in 2009.

"Auckland Airport is in a strong position, with a talented team that will ensure Auckland Airport's momentum continues as we seek a new chief executive," said Withers.

Moutter will receive a base salary of $1.35m at Telecom and he will also be eligible to receive short and long term incentives.

He will receive an annual short term performance incentive of $750,000 in cash if he meets the targets set by the board. He will also receive shares to a value of $600,000 for achievement of those targets, with the shares received as part of this performance incentive restricted from sale for two years.

Telecom said that the total value of the incentive payment and share grant may increase if Moutter "significantly exceeds the targets set by the board".

Moutter will also be eligible for $1m in share rights annually, as his long term incentive. The vesting of these share rights will typically not occur until three years after they have been granted, and vesting is subject to meeting financial and shareholder return performance hurdles to be determined by the board.

The release said that in all cases, the performance targets would be "closely aligned to the delivery of shareholder value."

"This package represents the market rate for a CEO position of this magnitude," said chairmanVerbiest.

"While Telecom is a smaller company than it was following the Chorus demerger, it retains a significant level of scale, challenge and complexity and the package reflects that. Telecom is currently the largest listed company by market capitalisation on the NZX."

Moutter will also receive a one-off grant of share rights on commencement with a value of $750,000. This grant vests in two tranches; the first half after 12 months and the second half after 24 months.

- HERALD ONLINE / BUSINESSDESK

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