Vocus names Kevin Russell as new CEO

Former Optus consumer CEO and Telstra retail exec to take reins at Vocus as group managing director and CEO.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Vocus has turned to industry veteran Kevin Russell to be its group managing director and chief executive officer.

Russell was previously group executive for retail at Telstra until September last year, and prior to that was country chief officer and consumer CEO at Optus.

"Kevin is a highly experienced and respected CEO. He has an excellent mix of skills and the demonstrated strategic ability to improve business performance," said Vocus chairman Bob Mansfield, who was installed in March.

"The board is very pleased that Kevin will be leading Vocus through its next stage; building a high-performance team that is focused on developing and executing a strategy to deliver the potential value within the company."

Russell will begin on May 28, and has a base pay of AU$1.1 million.

The position of CEO for Vocus was filled temporarily by CEO for Wholesale and International Michael Simmons, following the departure of the company's former boss Geoff Horth in February. Simmons will return to his former duties.

Following up on the decision not to sell its New Zealand business in April, the CEO of Vocus NZ, Mark Callander, will now be joining the board.

"The appointment of Mark Callander to the board recognises the important contribution of the NZ business to the Vocus Group," Mansfield added. "Mark brings to the board an extensive understanding of the New Zealand market, together with the lessons learned through the successful integration of prior acquisitions.

"Under Mark's leadership, our New Zealand business is delivering the value promised by earlier transactions and has overcome many of the challenges which currently face our Australian business."

Vocus said in April it had received a number of offers for its NZ business, but decided against the sale.

"Although Vocus received multiple offers for Vocus NZ, in the board's view, none of these offers appropriately reflected the fundamental and strategic value of Vocus NZ, nor provided sufficient certainty of funding and execution," the company said at the time.

At the start of the year, the company restructured into four business segments: Enterprise and Government; Wholesale and International; Consumer; and New Zealand.

In February, Vocus downgraded its guidance for the full year, with underlying net profit expected to be AU$125 million to AU$135 million instead of AU$140 million to AU$150 million.

Vocus had merged with M2 in February 2016 to form the third-largest telecommunications provider in New Zealand and the fourth-largest in Australia worth more than AU$3 billion.

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