Vodafone Hutchison Australia, the joint venture which operates the Vodafone and 3 brands in the Australian market, has announced the recruitment of Bill Morrow as CEO, replacing Nigel Dews. Morrow is a Vodafone veteran, having previously led the firm’s operations in the UK, Europe and Japan. Morrow’s most recent telecoms industry post was as CEO of US WiMAX player Clearwire, from which he resigned citing personal reasons in March last year.
Vodafone is positioning the hire as proof of its on-going commitment to the Australian market, in the wake of recent suggestions in the domestic press that the operation was to be put up for sale. Both Vodafone and 3 have been steadily losing market share to first placed Telstra and second placed Optus. Data from Informa’s WCIS put Vodafone’s market share at 14.55 per cent at the end of December 2011, down from 16.09 per cent a year earlier, with 3 falling from 10.04 per cent at the close of 2010 to 9.09 per cent at the end of last year.
But Morrow’s most high profile achievement for Vodafone in years past was the improvement and subsequent disposal of the firm’s Japanese operation, which was sold to Softbank in 2006. Shortly after this Morrow left Vodafone, a departure for which personal reasons were also cited. While he was unable to effect a turnaround at ClearWire, Morrow’s role at Vodafone Japan will likely drive speculation that he has been brought into the Australian market to make Vodafone’s property there more appealing to potential buyers.