Three UK CEO to exit business at end of March

Three UK has announced CEO Dave Dyson will leave the business at the end of the month, with Three Ireland CEO Robert Finnegan to take over a newly combined telco.

While Dyson will continue his work as a Board member and executive resource to parent company CK Hutchison Group Telecom Holdings in Hong Kong, his nine-year tenure at the head of the disruptive telco will end in just over three weeks. Three have said the decision was made for personal reasons.

“Three UK is very well positioned to grow in the market after a period of investment in 5G spectrum and more modern IT systems and processes,” said Dyson. “Robert joins at an exciting time in our history and the combined assets of the UK and Ireland businesses are a fantastic platform to deliver against customer demand.”

As you can see from the table below, Dyson has led the business through a time of growth after being appointed in 2011.

Year Subscriptions Market share Annual revenue
2019 10.03 million 10.86% Not available
2018 10.02 million 10.89% £2.439 billion
2017 10.07 million 11.06% £2.425 billion
2016 9.18 million 10.09% £2.276 billion
2015 8.97 million 9.84% £2.195 billion
2014 8.41 million 9.28% £2.063 billion
2013 7.94 million 9.32% £2.044 billion

The mobile industry in the UK has been somewhat stagnant in recent years, though the Three business did continue to improve revenues during this period. That said, Three is in a promising position for growth and diversification over the next couple of years.

For 5G, the telco does arguably have the most attractive spectrum portfolio, though whether this translates into increased market share and subscription gains remains to be seen. In terms of diversification, the launch of a fixed-wireless access (FWA) proposition allows Three to challenge the status quo in broadband, while a string of new hires allow Three to make a more considered effort in the enterprise market.

Three is in a healthy position though it does seem to be losing senior figures at a rapid rate.

Last month, Three announced that both Phil Sheppard, who was for all intents and purposes the telco’s CTO, and Graham Marsh, the former-Director of Core Technology would be leaving the business. Although this announcement was made in the wake of the disastrous Supply Chain Review conclusion, this is a red herring as neither exit should be attributed to this saga.

The Supply Chain Review, which restricted procurement from ‘high-risk vendors’ to 35% of the total RAN inventory, leaves Three in somewhat of an uncomfortable position. The telco signed an agreement with Huawei, a vendor deemed high-risk, to provide 100% of the RAN. Despite this being a stain on Dyson’s reputation, the work done to improve the Three business over the last nine years and create a platform for future growth should not be undermined.

Taking over at the helm will be Robert Finnegan, the current CEO of Three’s Irish business unit.

“With the integration of the Three and O2 business in Ireland largely complete, we now have a solid platform to look at the next phase of our development,” said Finnegan. “Collaborating more and progressively aligning operations and platforms with Three UK is an obvious opportunity and I am excited to be taking on this challenge as the CEO of both operations.”

With the two business units coming together, there will certainly be more opportunities to realise efficiencies, though it will be interesting to see how this combination works with Brexit. Operating inside and outside of the European Union through as a single business unit of a larger multi-national might present some complications.

Looking at the Irish business unit, this is somewhat of an interesting story.

Revenues have been falling thanks to a competitive environment eroding ARPU, though the impact of handset revenue amortisation has also had an influence on the spreadsheets. That said, looking at subscriptions, Three Ireland has wrestled a leadership position at the expense of Vodafone Ireland and the result of acquiring the O2 Ireland business in 2015.

Year Subscriptions Market share Annual revenue
2019 2.36 million 42.98% Not available
2018 2.19 million 42.16% €591 million
2017 2.06 million 40.43% €603 million
2016 2.07 million 40.38% €655 million
2015 2.03 million 39.43% €689 million


One comment

  1. Avatar Graeme Bellis 05/03/2020 @ 11:11 pm

    Hutchison is a Chinese Company so of course they would give 100% of their business to Huawei. The decision was not Dysons Shepherds or Marshes. They are just the political fall out ?

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