Moutter says there is 'enormous opportunity' to reshape company

In one of his first public appearances since taking over at Telecom, new chief executive Simon Moutter says the company has lost some of the emotional connection it shared with New Zealanders.

Speaking after Telecom's annual general meeting yesterday Moutter blamed this on the "many challenging years" the company spent grappling with regulations before its split with network arm Chorus. This made it difficult for the company to focus on the market, he said.

"So naturally with an inward rather than outward focus some of that connection with our customers and the country will have waned," he told the Herald.

But during his speech to investors, Moutter said there was an "enormous opportunity" to completely reshape the company, and reforge "deep links with the people of this country".


'We must step up the drive to transform Telecom's staff culture," he said. "It must be completely customer focused, and we must be agile enough to make quick decisions and take the lead in a dynamic and competitive market."

Moutter said he was not motivated to return to Telecom to manage a slow decline through simply cutting costs.

"Cost control will be a part of what we do, of course, but I want and expect us to win in key markets and be innovative enough to deliver growth through the revenue base as well."

The 52-year old, who came back to work at Telecom after a four-year stint as boss of Auckland International Airport, will release a more detailed strategic plan early next year on where the company is headed.

In what has become something of a thorny issue, criticism of the pay packet Telecom offers its top executive was aired during yesterday's meeting.

One shareholder, Barbara Baragwanath, asked why Moutter needed to be offered incentives past his $1.35 million base salary.

Telecom chairman Mark Verbiest responded: "In order to attract the highest calibre candidates we have to offer what is regarded in the market [as] competitive, otherwise they wouldn't come."

Verbiest said more of Moutter's performance-based pay would be paid out in shares than had previously been the case.

"The result being that Simon's remuneration has a greater exposure to the long-term performance of Telecom," he said.

After the meeting, Telecom shareholders approved Moutter's election to the Telecom board and the re-election of Verbiest and co-director Paul Berriman.

Simon Moutter
* Telecom CEO since August.
* 52 years old.
* Elected yesterday by shareholders to the company's board.
* Earns $1.35 million in base pay with additional performance-based incentives.