Eircom confirms new CEO appointment

1 Sep 2006

Eircom has appointed Babcock & Brown chief executive Rex Combs as successor to the former chief executive Dr Philip Nolan. News of the appointment coincided with fresh calls from the telecoms industry for Eircom to remove restrictions it claims are preventing consumers from choosing to use different telecoms operators.

Combs has been chief executive of Babcock & Brown Capital Management for the past 18 months. The Australian firm concluded its €2.4bn acquisition of Eircom in recent months.

Combs said he was excited about the opportunity to lead Eircom: “In Australia, I led a company of similar size and it’s an honour to have that opportunity here.

“Telecoms is an extraordinarily dynamic industry and while Eircom has done a good job in a challenging environment, it is my responsibility to lead Eircom through the next phase of growth. I have relocated my family here and I look forward to getting on with the job,” Combs said.

Forty-three-year-old Combs was, prior to joining Babcock & Brown, group managing director of the Linfox Logistics business. During his four-year tenure at the company he grew it from AUS$600m in turnover to in excess of AUS$1bn.

In a taste of the battle into which he wades surrounding Ireland’s broadband problems, the news of Combs’ appointment coincided with a call by telecoms lobby group ALTO on the new owners of Eircom to remove restrictions on consumers freely choosing which operator they wish to use.

ALTO claims difficulties created by Eircom for customers wanting to use different telecoms operators is inhibiting broadband take-up in Ireland.

ALTO chairman Tom Hickey commented: “Despite recent reports of increased broadband enquiries from consumers we need to double uptake if we are to get back in line with the EU average.

“Healthy competition is needed and we will only see this when consumers can switch to new products and providers,” Hickey continued.

“Almost 500,000 are prevented from switching from Eircom because to do so would result in a break in service, or a change in telephone number. This cannot be allowed to continue,” Hickey warned.

By John Kennedy

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