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Chris Quin – head of Telecom’s Gen-i services division – this morning confirmed he had been in the running for the company’s CEO role.
Yesterday, Telecom named Simon Moutter as its new chief executive.
“I’m disappointed,” Mr Quin told NBR ONLINE.
Speaking from the US, where he is on a “long-planned” business trip involving Gen-i partners Cisco, Microsoft and HP, Mr Quin said he had called Mr Moutter to congratulate him.
The Gen-i boss expected to meet with Mr Moutter soon after his return to New Zealand next week.
Mr Moutter officially joins Telecom in September.
With his solid finanancial record growing Gen-i, and his personal role fronting to media and customers during during the XT crisis, many saw Mr Quin as a serious contender.
Was he surprised the board had chosen to bring back a manager from the Theresa Gattung era – remembered for a huge run up in Telecom’s share price, but also a market cap meltdown amid the tech wreck, poorly-anticipated regulatory changes, a wrong bet on CDMA mobile technology, an aimless MSN hook-up, and paying way-over-the odds for Australian assets?
The Gen-i boss answered simply that New Zealand was a small country. Many had worked for Telecom at some point.
Mr Moutter had shown great leadership and results during his time at Auckland Airport.
Focused on Gen-i
There has been inevitable speculation that passed-over candidates could leave Telecom.
On this point Mr Quin said: “I have sent a note to my people to let them know I’m totally focused on Gen-i.”
The division would play a key role in Telecom’s growth, he told staff.
Yesterday, Forsyth Bar research director Guy Hallwright told NBR ONLINE: "It's up to Chris what he chooses to do."
In the past, some passed over for the top job have walked - notably Marko Bogoievski (now head of Infratil) and Mr Moutter himself, both of whom lost out to BT's Paul Reynolds in 2008 (Mr Moutter after a three-month stint as acting CEO).
Telecom needed group leaders who could drive customer relationships, Mr Hallwright said. Mr Quin was strong in this area.
Mr Moutter was more operationally focused.
Only one internal candidate declared himself during the CEO hunt: retail head Alan Gourdie, a former global marketing manager for Heineken whose Telecom domain includes the company's mobile and residential broadband businesses, plus its at times wobbly content partnerships with TiVo and Sky TV.
Mr Gourdie could not immediately be reached for comment.
Departing Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe was also in talks with Telecom during February – as was departing NZX CEO Mark Weldon last month.
However, it’s unclear if the Big Chair was offered to either man. Both say they are undecided on their future career direction.
Another rumoured candidate, Telecom chief marketing officer and ex MediaWorks CEO Jason Paris, earlier told NBR he was not in the runnning "this time".