Three UK CEO to exit business at end of March

Three UK has announced CEO Dave Dyson will leave the business at the end of the month, with Three Ireland CEO Robert Finnegan to take over a newly combined telco.

While Dyson will continue his work as a Board member and executive resource to parent company CK Hutchison Group Telecom Holdings in Hong Kong, his nine-year tenure at the head of the disruptive telco will end in just over three weeks. Three have said the decision was made for personal reasons.

“Three UK is very well positioned to grow in the market after a period of investment in 5G spectrum and more modern IT systems and processes,” said Dyson. “Robert joins at an exciting time in our history and the combined assets of the UK and Ireland businesses are a fantastic platform to deliver against customer demand.”

As you can see from the table below, Dyson has led the business through a time of growth after being appointed in 2011.

Year Subscriptions Market share Annual revenue
2019 10.03 million 10.86% Not available
2018 10.02 million 10.89% £2.439 billion
2017 10.07 million 11.06% £2.425 billion
2016 9.18 million 10.09% £2.276 billion
2015 8.97 million 9.84% £2.195 billion
2014 8.41 million 9.28% £2.063 billion
2013 7.94 million 9.32% £2.044 billion

The mobile industry in the UK has been somewhat stagnant in recent years, though the Three business did continue to improve revenues during this period. That said, Three is in a promising position for growth and diversification over the next couple of years.

For 5G, the telco does arguably have the most attractive spectrum portfolio, though whether this translates into increased market share and subscription gains remains to be seen. In terms of diversification, the launch of a fixed-wireless access (FWA) proposition allows Three to challenge the status quo in broadband, while a string of new hires allow Three to make a more considered effort in the enterprise market.

Three is in a healthy position though it does seem to be losing senior figures at a rapid rate.

Last month, Three announced that both Phil Sheppard, who was for all intents and purposes the telco’s CTO, and Graham Marsh, the former-Director of Core Technology would be leaving the business. Although this announcement was made in the wake of the disastrous Supply Chain Review conclusion, this is a red herring as neither exit should be attributed to this saga.

The Supply Chain Review, which restricted procurement from ‘high-risk vendors’ to 35% of the total RAN inventory, leaves Three in somewhat of an uncomfortable position. The telco signed an agreement with Huawei, a vendor deemed high-risk, to provide 100% of the RAN. Despite this being a stain on Dyson’s reputation, the work done to improve the Three business over the last nine years and create a platform for future growth should not be undermined.

Taking over at the helm will be Robert Finnegan, the current CEO of Three’s Irish business unit.

“With the integration of the Three and O2 business in Ireland largely complete, we now have a solid platform to look at the next phase of our development,” said Finnegan. “Collaborating more and progressively aligning operations and platforms with Three UK is an obvious opportunity and I am excited to be taking on this challenge as the CEO of both operations.”

With the two business units coming together, there will certainly be more opportunities to realise efficiencies, though it will be interesting to see how this combination works with Brexit. Operating inside and outside of the European Union through as a single business unit of a larger multi-national might present some complications.

Looking at the Irish business unit, this is somewhat of an interesting story.

Revenues have been falling thanks to a competitive environment eroding ARPU, though the impact of handset revenue amortisation has also had an influence on the spreadsheets. That said, looking at subscriptions, Three Ireland has wrestled a leadership position at the expense of Vodafone Ireland and the result of acquiring the O2 Ireland business in 2015.

Year Subscriptions Market share Annual revenue
2019 2.36 million 42.98% Not available
2018 2.19 million 42.16% €591 million
2017 2.06 million 40.43% €603 million
2016 2.07 million 40.38% €655 million
2015 2.03 million 39.43% €689 million

 

Nokia to replace CEO Rajeev Suri

With Nokia’s turnaround still seemingly distant, the Finnish networking vendor has decided it’s time for some fresh leadership.

Current Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri (pictured) will hand over the reins to Pekka Lundmark on 1 September of this year. Lundmark, who is Finnish, presumably has to work out six months notice at his current employer Fortum, one of the region’s biggest energy companies, where he is currently CEO. Lundmark also did some time at Nokia between 1990-2000.

“After 25 years at Nokia, I have wanted to do something different,” said Suri. “Nokia will always be part of me, and I want to thank everyone that I have worked with over the years for helping make Nokia a better place and me a better leader. I leave the company with a belief that a return to better performance is on the horizon and with pride for what we have accomplished over time. Pekka is an excellent choice for Nokia. I look forward to working with him on a smooth transition and wish him the best success in his new role.”

“I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead Nokia, an extraordinary company that has so much potential and so many talented people,” said Lundmark. “Together we can create shareholder value by delivering on Nokia’s mission to create the technology to connect the world.

“I am confident that the company is well-positioned for the 5G era and it is my goal to ensure that we meet our commitments to our customers, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders. Strong values, leading innovation and unflinching commitment to our customers have always been core to Nokia and I want to put this even more at our centre as we move forward.”

“With the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent behind us and the world of 5G in front of us, I am pleased that Pekka has agreed to join Nokia,” said Risto Siilasmaa, Nokia Board Chair. “He has a record of leadership and shareholder value creation at large business-to-business companies; deep experience in telecommunications networks, industrial digitization, and key markets such as the United States and China; and a focus on strategic clarity, operational excellence and strong financial performance.”

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors I would like to thank Rajeev for his many contributions to Nokia, where he has served with both honour and distinction. Rajeev’s loyalty, commitment, and deep personal integrity have served as an example to all of Nokia. I know that Rajeev will, like myself, always have Nokia blue running through his veins.”

That last sentence was presumably a nod to the fact that Siilasmaa is also calling it a day after eight years chairing the Nokia board, to be replaced by current Vice-Chair Sari Baldauf at the Nokia AGM in a month’s time. So this year will see the two people most individually responsible for Nokia’s current strategy and position leave the company. That’s a fairly major strategic rethink right there.

Suri oversaw a massive transformation of Nokia in his time heading up first Nokia Siemens Networks, from 2009-2014, then the whole company from 2014 until now. When Nokia bought Siemens out of their networking JV in 2013 it became clear that was the direction the company was headed in. This was confirmed when Nokia sold its shockingly diminished handset division to Microsoft the next year, along with its CEO at the time, Stephen Elop, which created the perfect platform for Suri to move into the top job.

He wasted little time in making his big strategic move: the acquisition of fixed-line giant Alcatel-Lucent to create an ‘end-to-end’ networking player. That was the narrative at the time and continues to be Nokia’s main unique selling point but, after an initial uplift, Nokia’s share price has slowly declined since then, implying all those lovely synergies have been slow to materialise. Share price reaction to this news seems neutral.

So the inference from Suri’s statement, that he’s just a bit bored and fancies a change, doesn’t really ring true. Chatting to industry figures about the news, the sense we get is that it was just time for a change. We haven’t heard any severe criticisms of Suri, just a sense that he may have run out of ideas. It could be argued that his job was to transform the company into a networking specialist and, having done so, it’s now time for someone else to take the ball and run with it.

Veteran telecoms Analyst John Strand reckons the Huawei situation has played a big part in Nokia’s current situation and thus Suri’s departure. One reason is what Strand characterises as “indirect government subsidies” in China, which have resulted in Huawei and ZTE now having a near monopoly among the Chinese MNOs. Recent industry estimates we have seen have Nokia’s share of that market as low at 3%.

Strand’s other point concerns the PR battle being waged by Huawei, in which it has become increasingly strident in its public statements in the face of US accusations. “He is a victim of a Chinese propaganda war,” Strand told us, indicating he thinks a stronger public performer is required now.

Whether or not Lundmark is such a person remains to be seen. He has been CEO of Fortum for five years and was CEO of Finnish crane company Konecranes for a decade before that. Among his executive positions at Nokia were VP of Strategy at Nokia Networks. So he certainly has the CV for the job, but this job marks a significant step up in terms of public profile.

Lundmark can presumably count on the full support of the board, though. Incoming Chair Sari Baldauf has not only been on the Nokia board since 2018 but was on the Fortum board for seven years prior to that and will have been his boss for a couple of years when she headed up the Nokia Networks business from 1998-2005.

So it looks like Nokia has decided it’s time for a fresh start and has put in place an experienced Finnish double act to do so. It would be odd for the company to make any other major strategic moves prior to Lundmark’s first day, but he will be hoping the quarterlies remain stable until he get’s the chance to make his mark.

Sunrise and CEO Swantee abruptly part ways

Sunrise has entered 2020 with the surprise announcement that Olaf Swantee, previously one of the favourites to take over the top-job at BT, will no-longer be CEO.

The abrupt nature of the announcement is of course not the usual course of action from a shift in management, though Swantee will remain in a support role until the Annual General Meeting in April. CFO André Krause has been promoted to CEO with immediate effect.

Details on the reason for a change in management are non-existent for the moment, though there will be plenty of rumours. Traditionally, telcos announce a CEO will be stepping down in ‘X’ number of months’ time, allowing a transition period through to a named replacement. Stating Swantee has resigned with immediate effect is unusual and suggests there is more to the story.

This is speculation however; there might not be a grand conspiracy theory, this might just be way the Swiss like to do business.

Swantee joined Sunrise in 2016 as CEO, having served as the CEO of EE in the UK for more than five years. His time at EE was a very successful one, taking over as CEO in the months following the formation of the company as a joint-venture between Deutsche Telekom and Orange. Over the course of the five-year period, Swantee oversaw the integration of the two existing businesses, as well as led EE to a leadership position in the UK market.

This success was then taken to Sunrise.

  2018 2019 2020 2021
Mobile subs 2.356 million 2.478 million 2.643 million 2.715 million
Growth 0.29% 5.2% 6.64% 2.72%
Market share 21.8% 23.5% 23.6% 23.8%
Broadband subs 457,000 500,879 461,860 461,660
Growth 8.38% 9.53% -7.79% -0.04%

Figures curtesy of Ovum’s World Information Series

Joining just after the company’s IPO in 2015, Swantee oversaw a transformation in the business, investing in the network while also shifting the brand and company culture. Mobile subscriptions are now on an upward trajectory, broadband is stabilising, and TV is in a healthy position. Sunrise is formulating a challenge to the clear and dominant market leader, Swisscom, and Swantee can leave with his reputation enhanced.

This is perhaps what makes the announcement somewhat of a surprising one; Sunrise are in a healthy position. A new strategy, focused on under-30s, is currently underway, while the business is also gaining traction in the enterprise market. Revenues are heading the right direction, as is share price and dividend payments.

What is worth noting is that there may well have been a bit of friction following the recently aborted acquisition of UPC Switzerland, Liberty Global’s assets in the country. Integrating UPC Switzerland into the Sunrise business would have given a boost to mobile subscriptions, but also a notable injection in the broadband unit; UPC Switzerland’s network currently passes 50% of the homes in the country.

Swantee was the champion of the $6.3 billion acquisition, a move which would have driven through a more complete convergence strategy in the business. However, the move was opposed by the telcos largest shareholder, Freenet, forcing the team to abandon the plans. Perhaps this friction could explain the sudden departure of a successful executive?

Whatever the explanation, Sunrise’s loss is someone else’s gain. Swantee is an experienced executive with a habit of being successful. We suspect that Swantee will not be unemployed for long.

Former Orange CEO jailed over workers’ suicides

French telco Orange has been found guilty of ‘moral harassment’ by a French court, with former CEO Didier Lombard facing a suspended jail sentence.

As the punishment is below two years, and Lombard is not considered a threat to the general public, no time behind bars will actually be served, though the ruling could prompt a significant shake-up for workers rights across the country. Lombard has also been fined €15,000, while Orange has been fined €75,000.

According to Reuters, the courts decided the corporate culture of overworking employees at Orange during the period was a direct contributor to the spate of suicides.

What is worth noting is that while it has been a decade since the accusations were directed towards Orange, the company has undertaken several transformation projects to ensure the same cannot happen again.

Orange has said it will not dispute the ruling from the court and has pointed to several initiatives to correct the toxic world culture which was in place at the time.

Earlier this year, the telco created a Compensation Commission to review individual situations, which resulted in the Evaluation and Compensation Committee which began operating in October. As a preventative measure, Orange has also said it has undertaken a vast social transformation project designed to prevent workplace suffering and psychosocial risks.

Legere is on the way out!

One of the most colourful, and successful characters in recent telco history is on his way out of T-Mobile US.

Few CEOs exit a telco with an enhanced reputation, but such is the success of T-Mobile US under his leadership, John Legere has almost completed an impossible to follow act. Perhaps this could be likened to the retirement of Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson or US tennis superstar Pete Sampras; how do you follow-up such impressive accomplishments?

Legere’s contract will expire on April 30, 2020, with current COO Mike Sievert taking over as CEO. Legere will remain as a board member of the company, tasked with overseeing the transition of the business as Sprint and T-Mobile US merge into a single entity. His future has not been confirmed just yet, though rumours emerged last week he was being groomed for the top-job at shared-workspace giant WeWork.

“John Legere has had an enormously successful run as CEO,” said Tim Höttges, CEO of parent company Deutsche Telekom.

“As the architect of the Un-carrier strategy and the company’s complete transformation, John has put T-Mobile US in an incredibly strong position. I have the highest respect for his performance as a manager and as a friend, I am very grateful to him for the time together.”

While Legere has formed a reputation as one of the more controversial and colourful characters in the US telco space, he should also be remembered as one of the most successful.

When Legere was appointed as CEO in September 2012, T-Mobile was not in an enviable position. Less than a year earlier, T-Mobile US looked like it would be merged into the AT&T business, only for the Department of Justice to step-in on the grounds of competition. At the end of 2012, T-Mobile US and MetroPCS Communications merged to create a consolidated fourth player with more spectrum, scale and investment potential. In 2013, Legere took control of the company’s fortunes with the launch of the ‘Uncarrier strategy’.

Over a six-year period, Legere’s magenta army have introduced numerous ‘Uncarrier’ offers which have proven to be highly disruptive to the US telco industry. For example, Uncarrier 4.0, known as Get Out of Jail Free Card, saw T-Mobile US pay the Early Termination Fees (ETF) of new subscribers, or Uncarrier 6.0 introduced zero-rating downloads for music streaming.

The result was relevance. T-Mobile US challenged the status quo, creating value for customers which rivals weren’t, eventually forcing the industry to evolve. When Legere was first appointed as CEO, T-Mobile US had roughly 33.3 million subscribers, now it commands 84.18 million. In 2012, revenues stood at $15.9 billion for the 12 months, in 2018, this number increased to $43.3 billion.

What will be interesting to see is whether Sievert can follow-up the wild-eyed persona which Legere has made his own. Sievert is a believer in the Uncarrier strategy, he led the marketing campaigns as CMO prior to his appointment as COO, though Legere was the face of T-Mobile US as well as the mastermind of the grand plan.

For example, looking at the social media presence of Legere, his Twitter account has 6.5 million followers, while a quirky Christmas themed message on YouTube in 2015 was viewed 226,266 times. The energetic CEO even fronted a series of cooking videos under the hashtag #slowcookersunday, the lasted video attracted more than 4.8 million watches on Facebook. Legere is the company’s most valuable brand ambassador, and few can replicate the enthusiasm and genuine belief in the message. What impact this will have on the appeal of the newly-merged business remains to be seen.

The future of the T-Mobile US business is at a pivotal point right now. Once the merger gets rolling it will have to convince Sprint’s current subscriber base to stay as a customer of the newly-merged telco, instead of churning to a rival. Churn is unavoidable in this scenario, therefore it will be a case of damage limitation. Unfortunately, the T-Mobile brand will not be able to rely on one of its most powerful marketing assets before too long.

The T-Mobile loss is a significant gain for WeWork, presuming the rumours are true. Though we would now like to point you to a collection of videos from the combative, colourful and cunning John Legere.

Could Orange’s CEO end up in prison?

Orange CEO Stephane Richard is widely respected throughout the telco industry, but he is also currently embroiled in a legal battle which could land him behind bars.

For his alleged role in the misuse of public funds while he was working for the Finance Ministry, French prosecutors have called for Richard to be sentenced to three years in jail. He would only spend half this time in prison, but this would be 18 months too long for almost everyone you ask.

The trial itself is drawing to a close, but this is hardly news, dating back to the 90s and the financial affairs of businessman Bernard Tapie. After making millions and eventually an 80% stake in German sports brand Adidas, Tapie faced debts and instructed state-owned Crédit Lyonnais to sell his stake. After the sale, Tapie was unable to settle said debts and challenged Crédit Lyonnais, suggesting the bank sold shares at a depressed rate.

This is where Richard steps into the fray. Tapie backed Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential election, which he went onto win. After this victory, the Sarkozy Government set up an independent arbitration panel to settle the case between Tapie and Crédit Lyonnais, instead of challenging the legal case brought against the bank which was the previous rhetoric.

After Tapie was awarded €403 million by the panel, the French Finance Ministry came under extreme criticism. At this point, Richard was serving as Chief of Staff for Christine Lagarde, Finance Minister at the time and now the head of the International Monetary Fund.

The players in this game are accused of creating this panel, and the subsequent settlement, as a convert reward for the support Tapie gave Sarkozy during the election campaign. This is the gloomy side of politics which causes so many to groan at the moral fibre of today’s politicians; there is always someone to thank one way or another. Since this point, a Paris court annulled the panel’s decision and ordered Tapie to repay the funds.

It’s all very nefarious, grimy and complicated, however Richard is tied up due to his position and alleged action during the latter stages of the affair.

What is clear, however, is that Richard is potentially facing prison time for his role.

As we understand it, Richard’s team is confident he will not end up on the losing side, though there is always a chance one of Europe’s leading telcos could be thrown into disaster as its CEO is locked up. Aside from a prison sentence, prosecutors are also pursuing a €100,000 fine and a ban from working for any organization where the French Government has a stake for five years. Currently, the Government owns around 13% of Orange.

Orange has no comment on the saga at this point, as this is a personal issue for Richard not the telco’s business. However, we suspect there must have been some whispered conversations behind closed doors discussing contingency plans; it would be irresponsible of the Orange management team if they were not.

The trial will likely conclude this week, though this does not mean we will be any closer to a decision. Richard will be left on the edge of his seat for the next couple of months, with a decision expected after the summer.

Europe is losing in the race to secure digital riches – DT CEO

Despite politicians around the world declaring the importance of technology and insisting their nation is one of the world leaders in digital, Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hottges does not believe Europe is competing with the US and Asia.

This might seem like somewhat of a bold statement, but it is entirely true. The US, led by the internet players of Silicon Valley, have dominated the consumer technology world, while the China and Japan’s heavyweight industries have conquered the industrialised segments. Europe might have a few shining lights but is largely left to collect the scraps when the bigger boys are done feasting on the bonanza.

“Europe lost the first half of the digitalisation battle,” said Hottges, speaking at Orange’s Show Hello. “The second half of the battle is about data, the cloud and the AI-based services.”

In all fairness to the continent, there has been the odd glimmer of hope. Spotify emerged from Sweden, Google’s Deepmind was spun-out of Oxford University, while Nokia and Ericsson are reconfirming their place in the world. There is occasionally the odd suggestion Europe has the potential to offer something to the global technology conversation.

What has been achieved so far cannot be undone. The US and Asia are dominant in the technology world and Europe will have to accept its place in the pecking order. That said, lessons must be learnt to ensure the next wave of opportunity does not pass the continent by. A new world order is being written as we speak, and it is being written in binary.

If Europe is to generate momentum through the AI-orientated economy, it will have to bolster the workforce, create the right regulatory landscape (a common moan from the DT boss), but also make sure the raw materials are available. If data is cash, Europeans are paupers.

As it stands, less than 4% of the world’s data is stored in the European market, according to Hottges. This is the raw material required to create and train complex, AI-driven algorithms and business models. If European data is constantly being exported to other continents, other companies and economies will feel the benefits. More of an effort needs to be made to ensure the right conditions are in place to succeed.

Conveniently, the data collected through Orange’s and DT’s new smart speaker ecosystem will be retained within the borders of the European Union. There need to be more examples like this, forcing partners to comply with data residency requirements, as opposed to taking the easy route and whisking information off to far away corners of the world.

Another interesting statistic to consider is the number of qualified developers in Europe. Recent research from Atomico claims there are currently 5.7 million developers across the continent, up 200,000 over the last 12 months, compared to 4.4 million in the US. Everyone talks about the skills gap, though it seems Europe is in a better position than the US if you look at the number of professional developers alone.

Europe has lost the first skirmishes of the digital economy, and to be fair, the fight wasn’t even close. However, the cloud-oriented, intelligent world of tomorrow offers plenty more opportunities.

Telecom Italia kicks out CEO Amos Genish

In one of the least surprising board room purges ever, Telecom Italia (or TIM for short) has got rid of its CEO Amos Genish.

“TIM’s Board of Directors met today and deliberated by a majority vote to revoke with immediate effect all powers conferred to Director Amos Genish, giving mandate to the Chairman to resolve further obligations in relation to the existing working relationship with Genish,” said a TIM announcement today.

“In accordance with the succession plan for Executive Directors adopted by TIM, the proxies revoked to Director Amos Genish were provisionally assigned to the Chairman of the Board. The Chairman of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee has called for a meeting of the latter, in compliance with its responsibility in identifying the new CEO.

“A new meeting of the Board of Directors to appoint a new CEO was convened for November 18. The Board of Directors thanks Amos Genish for the work done in the interest of the Company and all its stakeholders in these fourteen months of intense activity.”

The removal of Genish had seemed inevitable since investor group Elliott won a battle with French conglomerate Vivendi, for control of the TIM board room, back in May of this year. Genish had previously been installed as CEO while Vivendi was still calling the shots, but after winning control Elliott made all the right noises about Genish having their full confidence.

This always seemed somewhat tenuous, with Genish’s loyalties presumably under suspicion and him providing at the very least a convenient scapegoat as and when things took a bad turn at the company. That came to pass last week when TIM said it was writing down the value of its assets by €2 billion and exacerbated by a disagreement between Genish and the board over what to do about TIM’s fixed line network.

Rumours emerged early this week that Genish’s days were numbered and that the board was about to convene a special meeting to agree on his demise. Hilariously TIM issued statements to the press denying such a thing was going to happen just a day or two before it did. TIM has a rich history of deceptive press communications but this outright lie was shameless even by its standards.

“This is a shock,” Analyst Paolo Pescatore of Midia Research told Telecoms.com. “However, ongoing turmoil at the company continues to drag it down. The company is very well placed given its assets and early move to secure a leadership position in 5G. Further tussles will hand its fierce rivals a competitive edge.”

So what next? Elliott apparently has less than a week to come up with an alternative CEO that will do its bidding and the remaining Vivendi board members will presumably oppose whoever they put forward. Above everything else, however, this is another opportunity to finally appoint a CEO whose first name is Tim. Surely everyone can agree on the importance of that.

BT rumoured to offer top job to Worldpay CEO

Following the exit of Baywatch lookalike Gavin Patterson, everyone has had a go at guessing who will be the next BT CEO. The wait may well be over with BT reportedly offering the job to Philip Jansen.

According to Bloomberg, BT have been in private discussions with Jansen for some time now, with the rumours of his ascension emerging in September. People familiar with the matter suggest an offer has been made, with BT potentially making the official announcement on November 1, alongside its financial results for Q3.

Irrelevant as to whether the rumours prove true, the new boss will have a tough job turning around a business which has faced several scandals over the last 12 months, profit warnings and a turbulent relationship with UK telco watchdog Ofcom. The team also need to fix a heavy pension deficit, while also finding additional funds to ensure both its broadband and mobile networks remain competitive. Over the last three years, share price has dropped roughly 59%, with it currently being the lowest for six years. Jansen might be heading into one of the toughest jobs in telco.

Adding to the rumours of the Jansen discussions is his resignation from Worldpay which was announced last month. Jansen will remain in the role until the end of the year, though the stars do seem to align.

While there have been several names thrown around, Jansen does make a compelling case. During his tenure, Jansen oversaw the $10.4 billion acquisition and merger of Worldpay rival Vantiv, adding a few interesting bullet points to his CV. With the EE purchase still to pay dividends, perhaps a fresh set of eyes, with experience in significant M&A is an attractive idea.

Informa CEO doesn’t seem to fancy the BT job

It has been reported that Informa CEO Stephen Carter has been approached by BT as part of its search to replace CEO Gavin Patterson.

Sky News got the scoop, reporting Carter ‎’has been sounded out in the last few weeks about the post.’ Carter hasn’t publicly commented on the matter but apparently one of his unnamed friends has, confirming the approach but stressing he is not a candidate for the BT CEO gig, nor is he any part of the recruitment process.

It seems more likely that a headhunter has been ringing around senior telecoms execs to gauge their interest in running BT and Carter was on their list. Somehow this process came to the attention of Sky News and here we are. Intriguingly Carter’s mystery mate, who we believe accurately represents his position, indicated to Sky that Carter could yet be persuaded to shift his current position on the vacancy.

Carter was always likely to be on any headhunter’s shortlist, as Telecoms.com and Light Reading (both of which are owned by Informa) have speculated previously. He has a strong telecoms background including NTL and Alcatel Lucent, as being the founding CEO of UK telecoms regulator Ofcom. But thanks to a recent M&A spending spree, including the £3.9 billion acquisition of UBM, there seems to be plenty to hold Carter’s attention at Informa right now.

The smart money is on EE boss Marc Allera to move up to the BT CEO role. The acquisition of EE at the start of 2016 has served to illustrate how behind the times the core BT business is. Allera has shown he gets the modern consumer telecoms game and is already part of the mix so he would seem to be the safe choice. Besides, apparent shopaholic Carter is unlikely to be interested in a company that has already blown its M&A budget for the next few years.