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Updated: Bill Morrow new head of NBN Co

The appointment comes alongside a strategic review of the NBN that took place today
Updated: Bill Morrow new head of NBN Co

Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow will replace Mike Quigley as head of NBN Co, joining the company in the new year.

"While I am sad to be leaving a great company like Vodafone, I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and ensuring every Australian is able to benefit from a world class National Broadband Network,” Morrow said in a statement.

Telco analyst Paul Budde said it could be possible that Morrow jumped ship because he might have found Vodafone to be "a losing battle" as "customer losses simply kept on going".

"That job might have proven to be far too challenging," he said. "If that is the case, the sale of VHA could well be on the agenda.

"Bill Morrow has been on the head-hunters list ever since Quigley’s announcement in July, so they finally have been able to persuade them. Perhaps the reason why it took so long is that his job at Vodafone was far from finished."

Morrow said that is not at all the reason why he left Vodafone, defending the telco’s position in the market. “It had absolutely nothing to do with leaving because the job couldn’t be done or the company isn’t in a good position.

“I would have stuck around for another year but when the opportunity [came] to present itself at NBN Co, when I look at the stability that the company currently has, it’s one of those things that [came] together and that’s why I did what I did.

“We are seeing the brand perception scores go up, we are seeing our customer numbers go up, we are seeing growth come back into the business. So this is not an issue of it being too hard; it’s not an issue of bailing out or giving up on anything. I think you are going to see that in the results in the future.”

Morrow's appointment, which NBN Co announced this morning, comes alongside a strategic review of the NBN that took place today.

Read: NBN Co releases strategic review.

Morrow has previously said the ongoing 60-day review of NBN Co is an opportunity to examine the level of telecom competition in Australia. He also urged the government to use the NBN as a mechanism to enhance mobile competition by lowering backhaul costs that mobile competitors Vodafone and Optus pay to Telstra to connect their base stations.

“You need fixed-line infrastructure to carry the voice and data traffic from the mobile network to the exchange and to the rest of the world,” said Morrow.

“However, the economics of building duplicate fixed and mobile infrastructure don’t stack up, leaving consumers in many areas with no choice. We need greater competition to create the market that delivers more coverage, better services and choice to consumers.”

Last month, interim CEO for NBN Co Ziggy Switkowski backtracked on past statements that copper is obsolete, saying that fibre to the node is currently the most “probable scenario”.

Morrow said his successor has not been confirmed yet but anticipates someone will be chosen around March or April next year.

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More about: Bill, Optus, Quigley, Telstra, VHA, Vodafone
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If you look back at Morrow's public comments before the election he was constantly high on his praise of Turnbull as a visionary so it is not difficult to see why he was chosen. He also clearly loves to be in the media spotlight , we have more articles about Morrow and his life than any previous CEO of an Australian telco (contrast this with the quiet way that Thodey and Russell have gone about transforming Telstra and Optus). On top of that his promises to turn around Vodafone have not been fulfilled and it probably is a combination of jumping before being pushed. It is astonishing to thin that a CEO that had very publicly committed to seeing it through and had promised VHA employees that he would be there until the turn around was complete if they were to see him cash up and move on. Hardly the type of individual you would want running the NBN I would have thought.

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