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Vodafone swaps in new VHA boss, denies sellout rumours

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Vodafone has moved to settle its troubled Australian joint venture with Hutchison, Vodafone Hutchison Australia, installing Bill Morrow as CEO while denying rumours that the business is for sale.

In addition, Hutchison Whampoa GMD Canning Fok has been named chairman of VHA.

The venture has had difficulties in the Australian market since late 2010, when the marketing success of an “unlimited calls” offer brought its network to its knees. Further network troubles in 2011 led the mobile carrier to initiate a large and expensive network upgrade to try and stem a flood of customers to Telstra and Optus.

However, the operator still shed around 500,000 customers in 2011 and turned in a $AU350 million loss, leading to speculation over the future of the entire business. A privacy scandal also erupted a year ago when it emerged that poor control over its partners’ application access allowed the leaking of sensitive customer data.

Yesterday, Hutchison alumni Nigel Dews stepped down from the VHA CEO role to take an as-yet-unspecified job within Hutchison Whampoa, with Bill Morrow – a Vodafone veteran, although his most recent roles were with other companies including Clearwire – assuming his position immediately. ®

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