Freshtel staff numbers halved

Freshtel has obtained a slim new look in its cost-cutting restructure, slashing its staff numbers by half.

Freshtel has obtained a slim new look in its cost-cutting restructure, slashing its staff numbers by half.

The number of employees on the telco's books has reduced to 30 from 62 last year, according to the company's annual results to 30 June. The company had undertaken a strategic review to underline where costs could be cut. In April it said it had decided to maintain technical staff and those working on critical R&D, while cutting all non-core contractors or reducing hours.

The company's cost cutting fervour has seen it lose a raft of its executives. In June, the company announced the departure of Rhonda O'Donnell, stating cost as the reason. O'Donnell earned $414,347 in the last financial year.

The chief financial officer John Coates also left the company for another role and wasn't replaced, while the chief operations officer Ian Jackson's role was made redundant. In 2008, Coates earned $296,000 for the 2008 financial year. Jackson earned $298,876 this year for his work until 2 March 2009.

O'Donnell's role will be carried out by chairman Dr Allan Sullivan, appointed 22 May 2009. Sullivan was previously the CEO and director of ERG group. He has a close association with the company's major shareholder Custodial Capital Management which holds 23.6 per cent of the company's shares.

Delisting was another option the board was looking at to reduce costs.

"This will not only save hundreds of thousands of dollars in listing fees, audit and support infrastructure and staff costs, but will give the company a profile more in accordance with its current financial performance, ie, revenues of 4-5MA$ [million dollars per annum]; EBIT result of (2)MA$," the company's chairman Sullivan wrote in the annual results.

The board will work through the benefits and consequences of delisting prior to the Annual General Meeting, where the idea would be aired before shareholders.

In addition to its cost saving efforts, Sullivan said the company was also looking at merger possibilities to broaden its portfolio in the small- to medium-sized business market.

This financial year's results to 30 June saw the company's revenues plunge 34 per cent to $3.2 million, leading to a net loss of $10.2 million.