27 Oct 2011
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Telecom's turnaround as it votes on whether to split from Chorus

By Contributor

The focus of Telecom’s AGM in Auckland today was the impending vote on the demerger from network division, Chorus.

However, CEO Paul Reynolds also took the time to remind shareholders how well the company’s retail divisions – fixed line, mobile and internet, for both consumers and businesses – have been doing.

"We have been able to improve customer service while at the same time lowering costs," Reynolds says.

"People are demanding fast, ubiquitous connectivity, but they don’t want to pay any more for it.

"At the same time, we are subject to regulation more detailed and proscriptive than anywhere else in the world."

Reynolds says the improvement in the face of environmental challenges can be attributed to a three-year strategy put in place at the end of last year, called Vision 2013.

The plan was to cut down on waste, for example by placing clear instructions on broadband packs so that customers didn’t need to contact call centres for assistance.

"It’s about getting it right first time.”

Particularly vital was the XT mobile network, which after its initial troubles has been a solid performer.

"During the Rugby World Cup, XT has stood up as well as the All Black scrum,” Reynolds says.

The plan seems to have been effective, with Telecom’s share price improving all year, from under $2 in April to a high of over $2.75 in September. It is currently at $2.51, having fallen slightly following the demerger vote.

John Hawkins, chairman of the New Zealand Shareholders Association, took the opportunity during the AGM to point out that the company’s strong performance is relative to a ‘low starting point’, but thanked Telecom’s leaders – in particular outgoing chairman Wayne Boyd – for the company’s ‘sea-change’ in attitude and focus. 

If Reynolds is to be believed, once the demerger is complete, the retail operation will be a formidable force. The only question remaining is, who will be at the helm?

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