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Vocus NZ head Mark Callander bumped up to boardroom

Monday 21st May 2018

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Vocus Group's New Zealand chief Mark Callander will join the Australasian telecommunications group's board later this month, joining newly appointed managing director Kevin Russell. 

The Kiwi executive will join the board on May 28, the same day telecommunications veteran Russell joins the company to focus the group after a series of rapid acquisitions became too much of a handful and led to a number of writedowns. That included a merger with rival M2 Group in 2016 which brought the New Zealand business with it, including Callander. Vocus tested the waters for a sale of the New Zealand business but pulled the pin last month when it didn't get any offers big attractive enough to entice a sale. 

"Mark brings to the board an extensive understanding of the New Zealand market, together with the lessons learned through the successful integration of prior acquisitions," chair Bob Mansfield said in a statement. "Under Mark's leadership, our New Zealand business is delivering the value promised by earlier transactions and has overcome many of the challenges which currently face our Australian business." 

The telecommunications group wrote down the value of its assets by A$1.47 billion in the June 2017 year after rapid expansion through a series of acquisitions, including A$199 million on the New Zealand business. That shook out interest from private equity bidders, although no deal was forthcoming, and Vocus subsequently identified assets it could sell.

Earlier this year, Geoff Horth stepped aside as group CEO, an earlier exit than initially planned as part of the group's executive and boardroom overhaul that also saw former chair Vaughan Bowen step down in March. 

Vocus highlighted Russell's past experience turning around Hutchison Three UK in today's statement, and acknowledged his previous executive positions at Telstra and Singtel Optus as supporting his knowledge of the Australian market. 

The ASX-listed shares rose 4.2 percent to A$2.46, having shed 22 percent so far this year. 


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