One of the most widely respected chief executives in the telecoms business has stepped aside. Peter Erskine was appointed to the O2 Board in 2001 as CEO and oversaw a dramatic overhaul that ultimately resulted in O2 becoming the dominant cellular player in the UK.

Erskine sealed an $18bn deal with Spain’s Telefonica to become part of an elite group of global telecoms brands, securing a reputed £12m bonus into the bargain. His replacement, Matthew Key, is currently head of O2’s UK business and is the man credited for ensuring O2’s exclusive deal on the Apple iPhone in the UK.

Liverpool University psychology graduate Erskine joined O2 (then mmO2) from BT – O2’s parent fixed line operator – where, since March 1993, he held a number of senior positions including director of BT Mobile, president and chief executive of BT’s US joint venture with MCI, Concert, and, from 1998, managing director of BT Cellnet.

After college Erskine held marketing roles at Polycell and Colgate Palmolive after which he spent 10 years as European vice president of sales and customer service for confectionary giant Mars, then three years as senior vice president sales and marketing Unitel later renamed One2One.

Erskine is also a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Reading Business School.