Vocus CEO Geoff Horth exits

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Vocus CEO Geoff Horth exits
Geoff Horth.

"By mutual agreement".

Vocus has removed its CEO Geoff Horth “by mutual agreement” after a tumultuous two years at the helm of the telco.

The telco today said both Horth and the board had “been engaged in CEO succession considerations since earlier this year, as part of the company’s previously stated program of renewal at both board and executive levels".

“Both parties have now agreed that this process should be brought forward,” Vocus said in a financial filing.

Michael Simmons, who was only just made CEO of the new wholesale and international division, is now interim group CEO.

Vocus said it was searching for a permanent replacement, and would not say more until that person is appointed.

Group chairman Vaughan Bowen said Horth had served “during undoubtedly the most challenging chapter” of Vocus’ history.

Horth famously survived an attempted leadership coup just eight months after being appointed group CEO, which led to the exit of Vocus founder James Spenceley and another board member.

A month later, Vocus shares lost a quarter of their value as the company issued a profit warning. A second profit downgrade six months later saw another double-digit slide.

After the second downgrade, Horth admitted that Vocus was having problems merging all its acquisitions - which included Nextgen Networks, Amcom, and M2.

The integration problems meant that costs remained duplicated and expected acquisition synergies were yet to be realised.

The twin downgrades were considered in some circles to be a “fatal” blow to the credibility of the company’s executive leadership and board.

Vocus set up an internal transformation office and laid out a wide-ranging transformation program to get the company back to where it needed to be.

It appointed Justin Haddrick in July last year to run the transformation of technology platforms. He lasted three months, and was replaced by “external consultants”.

In the meantime, Vocus revealed plans to sell its New Zealand business before the end of June this year and an intention to sell off its Australian data centre assets, describing them as “non-core”.

At the start of this year, Vocus created a new divisional operating structure containing four individual units: enterprise and government, wholesale and international, consumer, and its New Zealand business.

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