Interim 2degrees boss Sherriff named full-time CEO
UPDATED Aug 27: 2degrees' interim chief executive, Stewart Sherriff, has been named the company's new CEO.
He replaces Eric Hertz, who was killed in a light plane crash, along with his wife Kathy, in March.
Mr Sherriff will resign from his role as chief technology officer at Trilogy International Partners, 2degrees’ majority shareholder and relocate from Chicago to Auckland full time.
A Scot who moved to the US 20 years ago, Mr Sherriff became 2degrees chairman in 2010.
He replaced Hautaki Trust appointee Bill Osborne as the iwi stake was watered down by new rights issues and Trilogy in turn raised its holding (Trilogy gained majority control in 2009).
Mr Sherriff has held senior roles at Trilogy and it's precursor Western Wireless since 1997. Trilogy invests in phone companies around the world. Mr Sherriff was CEO of one - Irish third mobile entrant Meteor - between 2003 and and when it was sold in 2005.
Between 1986 and 1993 he held various positions with Telstra in Australia. In the mid-1990s, before joining Western Wireless/Trilogy in the US, he worked for telcos in Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.
As 2degrees chairman, Mr Sherriff has at times been at the sharp end of things.
In separate legal actions over his employment status and shareholding, 2degrees founder Tex Edwards claimed neither Mr Sherriff nor the late Mr Hertz treated him impartially.
Both cases were settled out of court in November.
April 2: 2degrees chairman Stewart Sherriff has been named the company's interim CEO, replacing Eric Hertz.
Mr Hertz and wife Kathy were killed when their private plane crashed off the Raglan coast midday Saturday.
The move follows a board meeting today after the Chicago-based Mr Sherriff arrived in New Zealand with a second 2degrees director, the Seattle-based Brad Horowitz.
Both Mr Sherriff and Mr Horowitz hold positions at Trilogy, 2degrees' Seattle-based majority investor.
Mr Horowitz is Trilogy CEO; Mr Sherriff is the company's CTO and a senior vice-president.
Both have declined interviews.
2degrees chairman, major investor's CEO fly in from US
UPDATE April 1: 2degrees chairman Stewart Sherriff is en route to New Zealand, corporate affairs director Mat Bolland told NBR Online this morning.
The move is the first stage of a business continuity plan after 2degrees CEO Eric Hertz (58) and his wife Kathy (64) were killed after their private plane crashed on Saturday.
The Chicago-based Mr Sherrif is also chief technology officer and a senior vice-president of Trilogy International Partners, 2degrees' majority investor.
Also on the way is Trilogy CEO Brad Horowitz, who also serves as a 2degrees' director.
Messrs Sherriff and Horowitz's presence will help ensure business continuity, Mr Bolland says.
"We have a business continuity plan. You hope you never have to use it, but it's there."
Mr Bolland, along with other 2degrees managers, is working through the weekend to ensure operation as normal.
"Eric wouldn't have wanted it any other way," he says.
"We've got a lot of loss to deal with, but the excitement and the journey that is 2degrees has been something a lot of people share as well as Eric."
Messrs Sherriff and Horowitz were already up to speed, Mr Bolland says. In happenstance, there had been a board meeting shortly before the crash. Directors in the US and elsewhere had also been constantly updated over the weekend.
The Seattle-headquarted Trilogy owns 58.66% of 2degrees (in 2010 it gained Overseas Investment Office approval to lift its holding to up to 100%). Dutch company Tresbit owns 27.13% and Hautaki (the commercial arm of the iwi trust that provided 2degrees' original spectrum) owns 10.17%. The balance of shares are split between a trust for employee options and Hong Kong-based KLR, the investment vehicle of 2degrees' founder Tex Edwards.
Bodies trapped in plane - police
Police believe the bodies Eric and Kathy Hertz are trapped inside their small plane, which sunk in 60m of water after ditching into water 20km off the Waikato Coast on Saturday.
Waikato Police dropped a buoy around the area where debris surfaced, but have yet to locate the plane (read Hunt for Hertz plane, day 4: sonar finds large object for the latest on the recovery effort).
The couple's twin-engine Beechcraft Baron radioed Airways New Zealand to report engine failure shortly before radar contact was lost around 12.20pm Saturday.
The were en route from Auckland to Christchurch to visit their daughter.
Mr Hertz had more than 10 years' flying experience, and was instrument-rated.
2degrees has joined politicians and industry leaders in paying tribute to Mr Hertz, and offering condolences to his family.
“We are going to miss Eric’s leadership, friendship and dry sense of humour. He was our ‘honorary Kiwi’ and greatly respected by our 760 staff,” Mr Bolland says.
UPDATE March 30, 8.50pm: 2degrees has confirmed CEO Eric Hertz and his wife Kathy were onboard the small plane that crashed off the Waikato coast around midday today.
"Although we have limited information, we understand they are unlikely to have survived. Our focus now is to support Eric and Kathy’s daughter and provide assistance to their family," a spokeswoman says.
Mr Hertz - an American who had previously worked with 2degrees' majority investor, Seattle-based Trilogy International Partners - came to New Zealand to take up the CEO role in July 2009, shortly before the carrier's commercial launch.
It was not his first time in the country. Mr Hertz and his wife spent a month on a cycling holiday around New Zealand in 1985, shortly after he completed an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Management.
He held senior roles at telecommunications companies including AT&T, BellSouth and Western Wireless (the company that became Trilogy) before moving from Seattle to Auckland to head 2degrees.
With Western Wireless, the Mr Hertz (who spoke both English and Spanish) worked on developing the company's Central and South American business.
He was softly spoken, but pushed 2degrees hard, and surprised analysts and rivals as it hit the million customer mark within three years of launch - although the time was also marked by a rocky relationship and legal standoff with 2degrees founder Tex Edwards (settled in November).
It was a period of tremendous change change for the mobile industry. Under his leadership, 2degrees joined with a broad coalition including Federated Farmers, Tuanz and Consumer to successfully push for regulatory reforms that made the telecommunications market more competitive.
Read tributes to Mr Hertz and condolence messages to his family below in comments and here.