Pacnet CEO departs; acquisition rumors gain steam

Undersea cable operator announces sudden departure of long-serving CEO William Barney, but gives little explanation; CFO Brett Lay becomes interim chief. Meanwhile, speculation of Telkom's acquisition picks up.

Communications provider Pacnet has announced that long-serving CEO William Barney is no longer with the company, but no explanations has been given for his departure. Its financial head Brett Lay has been appointed as the interim chief.

In a press release Tuesday, the company said: "The board of directors thank [Barney] for his service to Pacnet. A global search is underway for a permanent Chief Executive Officer."

When contacted by ZDNet Asia for an explanation, the company replied in a statement: "Pacnet's Board of Directors and the shareholders made this decision collectively and they agreed with [Barney] that a parting of the ways was in the company's best interest at this time."

Barney had run the company and its predecessors for more than a decade. He was previously CEO of Asia Global Crossing from 2002 before it was acquired to form Asia Netcom in 2003, which subsequently merged with Pacnet in 2008. Barney was named 2008 Telecom CEO of the Year by online news site Telecom Asia.

The interim CEO is Brett Lay, who has been the company's CFO for the past five years. According to Pacnet, Lay holds two Master of Science degrees: one in Finance and one in Management, from the University of Colorado.

James Ousley, who was appointed as Pacnet's independent chairman at the start of the year, said in the statement: "Lay is a seasoned telecom executive. On behalf of the board of directors, we are confident in his capabilities and commitment to lead Pacnet during this leadership transition and to play a pivotal role with the new CEO in furthering Pacnet's evolution into a leading regional player of cloud-based data services."

Acquisition talk gains momentum
In a separate report by The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, Indonesia's largest telco Telkom revealed that due diligence for its plan to buy a controlling stake in the company is expected to be completed next month.

Newly-appointed CEO Arief Yahya said in the report: "We have time for 'go or no go' until this June. Once we submit [the bid], we have to keep silent about it."

News of the acquisition first broke earlier in May, with Telkom reportedly preparing for a US$1 billion bid.