Sol Trujillo steps down as Telstra chief

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Sol Trujillo steps down as Telstra chief

Telstra has ended months of speculation by confirming chief executive Sol Trujillo will leave the telco on June 30.

At a hastily-called press conference before the half yearly results announcement this morning, chairman Donald McGauchie said the Board had met with Trujillo yesterday "and over the last little while" to discuss Trujillo's intentions.

McGauchie said while there was "never a perfect time to make a [CEO] change", he believed both Trujillo and the Board had picked the right time for the departure, given the progression of Telstra's transformation strategy.

He also said that the telco would now formally commence a "wide-ranging search" for a suitable successor.

The successor, McGauchie said, will be expected to generate a new three-to-five year business plan, to manage legacy systems but also enable Telstra to take advantage of future business opportunities.

"This is a very complex company," McGauchie said.

"I don't think there's many more complex companies out there with the range of things we currently do and the areas we're expanding in.

"We need someone who can manage our legacy systems and see where our company's future is."

Truijllo will return to the United States at the end of June. He said he looked forward to reconnecting with his children and elderly parents and that he didn't have a new job lined up yet.

He said he would continue to remain focused on driving Telstra's business forward right up until his departure, and McGauchie denied that the announcement would marginalise Trujillo within the company until his departure.

"This guy will never be a lame duck," McGauchie said.

"I look forward to Sol continuing to drive this business up til midnight on 30 June. It may be until one or two AM that he's still driving it forward," he joked.

"He'll continue to drive this business and we're confident we'll have a replacement in time [for his departure]."

Trujillo left it largely to McGauchie to outline the ways he believed Trujillo's legacy would be remembered in the Australian telco market.

McGauchie said he believed the Next G network would be seen as Trujillo and team's greatest achievement.

But he also praised Trujillo's ability to "see around corners", the launch and rollout of the retail T-Life stores, continuing ADSL2+ rollout, customer segmentation and Telstra's expansion into mainland China as other positive areas of Trujillo's legacy.

McGauchie denied Telstra's removal from the NBN process would be part of Trujillo's legacy, repeatedly referring to the Next G, ADSL2+ and HFC networks as proof of the telco's ongoing focus on broadband.

"I think you've got to get over this obsession with the NBN quite frankly," McGauchie said.

"It's interesting we've laid out a piece of optical fibre with the NT government in Arnhem Land and we've got a fibre network that runs around Victoria. We're doing things [like this] all the time.

"It would be nice if this country got off it's political kick and onto an investment kick and recognised there's a lot of ways to skin a cat."

Trujillo also denied the loss of a Microsoft beta phone in Barcelona this month would impact his legacy.

"To be quite frank I saw it for about five seconds," he joked.

"I never had possession of it so it was interesting to see a story about Sol having his pockets picked."

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