Primus CEO Ravi Bhatia steps down

Over a decade after first establishing Primus in Australia, managing director and CEO Ravi Bhatia has now retired to pursue opportunities in the resources and infrastructure industry.

Over a decade after first establishing Primus in Australia, managing director and CEO Ravi Bhatia has now retired to pursue opportunities in the resources and infrastructure industry.

Ravi Bhatia

(Credit: Liam Tung/ZDNet Australia)

"I established this company in Australia in October 1995, and it's been 16 years. It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of success, and the time comes to hang up your gloves and try something else, to chase other dreams," Bhatia told ZDNet Australia.

The company's US parent, Primus Telecommunications Group, announced last night that it had appointed Richard Baumfield as the acting MD and CEO effective immediately, while the company seeks to find a permanent replacement by the end of the third quarter of 2011.

Bhatia said that breaking up the Telstra-Optus duopoly in 1996, becoming the second-largest internet service provider (ISP) in 1998 and bringing the company out of Chapter 11 were the highlights of his 16 years. He said that he will remain an advisor to the board, and would spend the next few months looking at a number of industries to see what appeals to him.

"There seems to be a lot happening in the resources sector," he said. "There's a lot of investment going in there over the next few years, and there will be a lot happening in the infrastructure sector."

Despite all of the headlines and concerns over the Federal Government's proposed carbon tax hitting Australia's resources industry hard, Bhatia said that he wasn't concerned.

"I think that's more political, and the politicians will resolve it one way or another. Fundamentally, Australia is resource rich, and the products Australia has are attractive to the rest of the world."

Primus was one of the first retail service providers (RSPs) to offer National Broadband Network (NBN) services at the first sites to be completed in Tasmania and on the mainland. Bhatia admitted that there had been teething problems.

"Being the first one in Tasmania has its own issues. We learned a lot and got a lot of experience. We've put in a lot of effort into developing new systems, interfacing, customer needs and all that. Those are the hard yards, I think from here onwards it should be easier," he said.

He said that he believes Primus should continue to be successful in an NBN world.

"NBN offers a lot of opportunity. There are hard yards to be covered to be successful in it, but if you stay dedicated and focused on it, it will be very nice."

Primus Telecommunications Group CEO Peter Aquino paid tribute to Bhatia, saying that he was a pioneer of the Australian telecommunications industry.

"Through skilful leadership and innovation, he has been the driving force behind building this unit into one of the country's largest full-service voice and data carriers with an established national brand," he said in a statement.

"The board joins me in expressing appreciation to Ravi for his years of dedication and exceptional leadership, and looks forward to his continued contribution as we pursue our National Broadband Network opportunity in mainland Australia."

Primus was one of six companies to agree to intially trial the Federal Government's mandatory internet filtering scheme in 2009. When the mandatory filter was shelved while the government could review the refused classifications process, Primus was one of three telcos to agree to voluntarily filter child abuse websites. However, last month Primus was still undecided about whether it would ban the Interpol blacklist as Optus and Telstra have now done.


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