Telco boss did hard job well, say analysts

Steve Dinneen
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INDUSTRY figures came to the defence of former Everything Everywhere chief executive Tom Alexander yesterday after a senior executive at parent company France Telecom criticised his short-lived tenure.

Alexander quit the firm just a year after it was formed from the merger between Orange and T-Mobile in the wake of a series of lacklustre results.

France Telecom’s European boss and Everything Everywhere board member Benoit Scheen told City A.M. the company had “lost a year” under Alexander, who failed to make the necessary cuts to the firm’s sprawling management structure.

But analysts told City A.M. merging two distinct corporate cultures is a messy process and said blaming Alexander for the troubles is unfair.

James Barford of Enders Analysis said: “Tom has always been very impressive. His record with Virgin Media is very good and it’s hard to fault him as a telecoms executive ... Mergers like that are always going to be difficult, with two cultures that are invariably very different.”

Richard Hunter, head of UK equities at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “It’s not unusual for there to be a period of difficulty after a merger. It sounds like getting the board right did take a long time in this case but there is a history of painful mergers in this industry.”

Strategy Analytics’ Phil Kendall said: “It’s challenging to combine two structures like T-Mobile and Orange and make one successful operation.

“The Everything Everywhere merger took longer than expected to pick up but I think the merger was reasonably well executed overall.”

France Telecom Group, which owns half of Everything Everywhere with German partner Deutsche Telekom, stressed it appreciates Alexander’s time as CEO and said he left the company for personal reasons. Alexander could not be reached for comment.