Optus prepares new government relations strategy

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Optus prepares new government relations strategy

Appoints replacement for Maha Krishnapillai.

Optus has appointed Kevin Rudd’s former chief of staff and a global public affairs guru as its new head of government relations as the telco prepares a new bid to “correct regulatory settings” at the government level.

David Epstein, most recently group head of public affairs at mining giant BHP Billiton, will join the telco later this month.

He will formally replace Maha Krishnapillai, who left Optus to join Australia Post late last year.

The regulatory post had been filled on an interim basis by general manager of corporate affairs, Clare Gills.

In a statement, Epstein hinted at the carrier’s impending launch of a 4G mobile network based on LTE technology and the National Broadband Network rollout as key points of concern as he enters the role.

But country chief Paul O’Sullivan also pointed to impending regulatory changes from the Federal Government as another area of focus for the company from a government relations perspective.

“While we have achieved a great deal from a regulatory perspective over the last few years, there is still much work to be done in ensuring we have the correct regulatory settings in place as we move to a new era of convergence,” he said.

The carrier made several public submissions to the Federal Government’s Convergence Review, the final report of which was handed to Government last week and is expected to be publicly released this month.

Optus and particularly O'Sullivan have traditionally been particularly vocal on concerns with government regulation of the telecommunications industry.

Executive musical chairs complete

Epstein's appointment also forms the completion of Optus’ reshuffle at the senior executive level as the result of restructures within the Australian carrier and at a group level in parent company, SingTel.

As first reported by iTnews last month, Optus adopted a new structure yesterday that would see the company split into marketing, sales and customer divisions.

It will be led at the country level by chief operating officer Kevin Russell, who was promoted to head of the Australian consumer division under a restructure within SingTel, which saw Paul O’Sullivan take on global consumer operations at the company.

A spokeswoman for the company confirmed this week that former Optus Business managing director Robert Parcell would take on wholesale and satellite operations at the carrier as Vicky Brady moved to head the newly formed customer division, completing the senior reshuffle.

It still remains unclear, however, how many redundancies Optus will make as part of the global and local restructures.

Despite claims that more than 750 jobs could be made redundant as part of the move to share common services with SingTel globally, the spokeswoman said an internal review of those roles was ongoing.

The company has 9700 staff according to financial reports, a decrease of nearly 500 from figures released a year before.

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