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2degrees founder Tex Edwards loses bid to stop his job being eliminated

Tuesday 10th July 2012

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Simon 'Tex' Edwards, one of the founders of the company now known as Two Degrees Mobile, has lost a bid to stop his job being eliminated and will leave at the end of this week.

The Employment Relations Authority declined Edwards' application for an interim injunction restraining the company from ending his employment.

The decision by ERA member Alastair Dumbleton allows Two Degrees to proceed with disestablishing the position of strategist. Substantive claims brought by Edwards against Two Degrees and its chief executive Eric Hertz will be investigated by the ERA on Aug. 22.

Edwards had argued that the move to dump him was personal and he cited an email from Hertz that the company was "simply not well served by his presence inside the business." Two Degrees later acknowledged that email was "problematic" and chairman William Sherriff was brought in to handle the situation.

He also argued that the value of his minority shareholding in the company would be at risk if he wasn't on deck to safeguard it, saying Two Degrees had been cavalier with its shareholders.

The company argued that while Edwards played a crucial role in the company while it was in start-up phase, much of his work had since been shared out among senior managers and there was no longer a distinct role for a strategist. He had been offered consulting work at what amounted to half his salary, according to the decision.

Edwards had fallen out with Two Degrees' majority owner Trilogy International because it wouldn't extend him credit to maintain his shareholding when the company raised additional equity capital, Fairfax Media reported.

Two Degrees has regularly returned to shareholders Trilogy, Tesbrit and Hautaki Trust for more capital as it grew market share. The owners pumped in US$66 million last year.

The company grew out of a government decision 10 years ago to give Maori the right to buy a third generation radio spectrum frequency at a discounted price. The remaining life of the spectrum management rights is about nine years.

The Auckland-based company had about 875,656 customers in February, or about 16 percent of the mobile phone market, which is dominated by Vodafone and Telecom.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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