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Telecom's CFO Houlden to head back to Britain

Tuesday 18th May 2010

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Telecom’s fortunes have got no better with today’s announcement that its chief financial officer of two years, Russ Houlden has resigned to return to his native United Kingdom.

Houlden has presided over Telecom’s ‘cost-out’ programme, which aims to strip more than $500 million of spending from the business over three years as it strips out 500 management jobs from the country’s biggest phone this financial year. In the latest earnings, he announced a change in Telecom’s 2011 dividend policy that will see shareholders paid a fully-imputed dividend equal to a 90% ratio of adjusted earnings, which should help it keep its A and A3 credit ratings with Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Services respectively.

“Russ has done an outstanding job in his two years at Telecom, during a period of profound change and significant challenges for our company,” Telecom chief executive Paul Reynolds said, himself a Scot who has led the company for just under three years. “Russ has brought great rigour, discipline and insight into our financial planning processes as the company’s transformation gathered pace. The depth and capabilities of the financial leadership team has grown significantly under Russ’ leadership.”

Houlden’s family still resides in Britain, and his children continued their education there while he took on the financial helm at New Zealand’s national telecommunications company. He will take on a CFO role at a FTSE 100 company.

His departure date is not yet finalised, but Houlden has committed himself fully to Telecom until his successor is in place, Reynolds said.

James Lindsay, who helps manage $450 million at Tyndall Investment Management, said considering Houlden’s family remained back in Britain it’s not too surprising to find him heading back home.

“It probably hasn’t been the easiest company to run,” Lindsay said. “We’ve seen how rough things have been externally for Telecom, internally it’s sure to have been rough as well.”

Telecom shares remain unchanged at $2.09 today.

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