Chorus has named Telstra executive Kate McKenzie as its new chief executive, replacing Mark Ratcliffe who led the split of the telecommunications network operator from Telecom five years ago.

McKenzie will be the only woman to lead an NZX 50 company.

McKenzie joined Telstra in 2004 and her most recent position at Australia's largest telco was chief operations officer responsible for field services, IT and network architecture and operations. She will take up her role at Chorus in February next year, the Wellington-based company said in a statement.

Telecom carved out the network operator Chorus from its services business in 2011, a process overseen by Ratcliffe in his role as Chorus chief executive, and the company's fortunes have been largely determined by the regulated price for access to its service. Chorus said McKenzie is a lawyer with a strong track record in understanding government and regulatory environments having worked in relevant roles at Telstra and the state.


Chorus chairman Patrick Strange said McKenzie was one of the most highly rated telecommunications executives in the region, and her clear leadership qualities and broad range of relevant experience made her the standout choice to replace Ratcliffe, whose departure was signalled at the company's earnings result in August.

Chorus shares last traded at $3.885 and have slid 0.6 per cent this year.