Vocus appoints former Telstra retail chief to CEO role

Kevin Russell given task of turning around telco’s performance

Kevin Russell has been appointed Vocus Group CEO and managing director.

Russell joins Vocus from Telstra, where he led the telco’s retail business. He leaves Telstra after a year and a half. Russell is also a former CEO, consumer, and country chief officer at Optus.

In its announcement, Vocus also cited the new CEO’s experience as chief executive at Hutchison Three UK Ltd, where he led the company “through a £1 billion turnaround, from a £900 million loss in 2006 to £100 million profit in 2010”.

Vocus’ previous CEO, Geoff Horth, departed earlier this year after a series of disappointing results for the telco included the revision in February of its full-year guidance.

Vocus reported statutory net profit after tax of $37.3 million for the six months to 31 December, down from $47.1 million in the prior comparable period.

Vocus chair Bob Mansfield said that Russell “has an excellent mix of skills and the demonstrated strategic ability to improve business performance.”

“Corporate activity in earlier years has created a platform that makes Vocus competitive with the majors and opens up significant future growth opportunities,” Mansfield said. “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 begins his new role on 28 May.

Vocus also revealed that on 28 May Vocus New Zealand CEO Mark Callander would join its board as an executive director. In April, Vocus announced it would not proceed with the sale of its New Zealand business, saying it had “ceased all discussions with interested parties in the sale process”.

Vocus had announced the prospective sale in October 2017.