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Vocus adds heavy hitters in board renewal

Christian Edwards  |  03 Oct 2017Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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SYDNEY - [AAP] Challenger telco Vocus Group (ASX: VOC) has appointed former M2 boss Vaughan Bowen and former Telstra chairman Bob Mansfield to lead a board tasked with turning around the faltering business.

Mr Bowen takes over as non-executive chairman, replacing David Spence who leaves after seven years in the role, after the rising telco and former market darling turned in an abysmal 2017 full-year result in its sprint to achieve scale.

Change at the top has been coming at Vocus ever since the telco's tightening commercial outlook drove it to a $1.46 billion loss and forced the country's fourth largest telecommunications provider to slash the value of its headline acquisitions.

Mr Bowen, as founder and chief executive of M2 led that business' strategic expansion spree, including the acquisitions of Primus Telecom and Dodo.

He says said expects to play an important role in steering Vocus back to a position of "value and credibility" recovering the ground lost over its "disappointing" past year.

"I want to assure all shareholders that restoring value is the board's utmost priority."

As a sizeable Vocus shareholder, Mr Bowen said, his "interests are aligned" with fellow shareholders.

"I recognise the time for delivering improved, sustainable performance is now."

In its 2017 financial year Vocus recorded a $1.53 billion goodwill impairment on its swelling assets--including the acquisition of Mr Bowen's M2 Group, Amcom and Nextgen Networks.

Former Telstra chairman and founding Optus chief executive Bob Mansfield has also been appointed, as deputy chairman, replacing Craig Farrow.

Mr Mansfield, who joined Vocus' board as a non-executive director in January, is also chairman of Allco Finance Group, an Investec Bank director and chairman of the board of governors for the Steve Waugh Foundation and has been McDonalds' CEO.

"There is opportunity for Vocus to become the pre-eminent challenger telco in the markets," said Mr Mansfield.

Mr Farrow will remain on the board as a non-executive director, chairman of the Remuneration Committee and a member of the technology and transformation committee, Vocus said.

Just two days after private equity suitors abandoned potential bids for Vocus in August, Australia's fourth-ranked telco, it announced an almost $1.5 billion loss and scrapped any final dividend.

Vocus said it wants to continue renewing its board over the year ahead, to ensure capability and independence.

At 1145 AEDT, Vocus Group shares were up 4.5 cents, or 1.85 per cent, at $2.475.


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