2degress boss quits just ahead of launch

Our third mobile operator has just announced its chief executive, Mike Reynolds, has resigned. His replacement is named.

Mr Reynolds has quit 2degrees to take up a role in the US.

A 2degrees spokeswoman said neither she nor other 2degrees staff had been told what the role was - only that it was in Mr Reynolds' home state in the US. The reason for the secrecy is, apparently, that the chief executive is moving to a publically-traded company, which has yet to announce his appointment.

The Florida-born telco executive had been in the position just 12 months.

Mr Reynolds came to 2degrees from Singapore’s StarHub, a $2.5 billion telco where he served as president.

Reflecting at least a minor degree of miscommunication - or possibly rebellion in the ranks - Mr Reynolds departure was noted on 2degrees Wikipedia entry before the company had the opportunity to make an official announcement. (The entry also claims an August 7 launch date, geling with what NBR has previously been told. 2degrees says "don't believe everything you read in Wikipedia".)

Mr Reynolds’ replacement is Eric Hertz, a 30-year mobile wireless industry veteran who was most recently chief executive of smartphone applications software company Zumobi in Seattle - a tiny Microsoft spin-off.

During his time as 2degrees boss, Mr Reynolds never built up more than a minor public profile.

The transition will take place during August. Mr Hertz is at 2degrees' Auckland office this week, but will return to the US before settling in New Zealand full-time.

Trilogy takes majority stake
The company also announced this morning that its US investor, Trilogy International Partners intends to increase its shareholding in 2degrees from 26% to 52%.

A spokeswoman said nothing should be read into the fact that both the Trilogy investment move, and Mr Reynolds departure, were announced by Trilogy's Stewart Sherriff, who also serves as 2degrees deputy chairman, rather than chairman Bill Osborne. The US-based Mr Sherriff is currently in Auckland.

Trilogy has agreed to purchase the interest currently held in 2degrees by Hong Kong based General Enterprise Management Services - about 25% - in exchange for approximately 8% of Trilogy equity. Fergus Wilmer (formerly representing GEMS) will remain on the board of 2degrees representing Trilogy.

2degrees current line-up of shareholders is Trilogy - 52%, London-based Communication Venture Partners (CVP) - 26%, Hautaki Trust - 20%.

The balance of the company is owned by private investors, including KLR, the Hong Kong-based family investment vehicle for 2degrees founder - and current regulatory affairs officer - Tex Edwards. (In May Mr Edwards denied rumours he was set to leave the company.)

Eric Hertz: the official 2degrees bio
Eric brings more than 30 years of telecommunications and mobile wireless industry experience, entrepreneurial vision, and seasoned management skills to the 2degrees team.

Most recently Eric was CEO of Zumobi in Seattle Washington, having seen the company through its launch and successful product roll-out of unique mobile applications for the next generation of wireless devices and mobile networks.

Prior to Zumobi, Eric was chief operating officer of Western Wireless a successful high-growth wireless voice and data services company with presence in 20 states in the United States as well as 11 countries around the world.

Eric has also held senior leadership roles at BellSouth, McCaw Cellular and AT&T Wireless, bringing advanced mobile wireless services and products to market.

He has led wireless companies from early stage through rapid growth in the Latin American countries of Ecuador, Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua in very highly competitive markets.

Eric holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Worcester, MA as well as a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School – Philadelphia, PA in the United States.

Eric and his wife Kathy are very excited to be coming to live in New Zealand and become part of the exciting New Zealand telecommunications story as 2degrees enters the market in August.

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4 Comments & Questions

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Interesting development. Was he doing a good job but couldn't adjust to a tiny business in a tiny market ... or was he an over-paid, over-hyped expensive import who got found out?

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I think that Bens last comment was on the money ,lets hope the new appointment makes more of a constructive push forward over the trenches !!!!!

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Isn't that where Telecom's Hamburger comes from too? I hear he flies home every week on the company expense account and has a flat in town with a kosher chef...

I'm sure he's delivering on shareholder expectations.

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Given that TEL shareholders are used to funding huge salaries and lavish expense accounts I'd say he is fully meeting expectations .... assuming what you say is true of course!

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