O2 UK appoints finance head Mark Evans as new CEO

Telefónica-owned O2 UK appointed Mark Evans as its new CEO, replacing Ronan Dunne who is stepping down from the role.

Dunne, who has served as CEO since Jan. 1, 2008, has thus confirmed his intention to leave the operator as indicated last September. He will step down from the board on Jul. 31 but intends to remain with the business until September. Evans has held the post of CFO at the mobile operator since January 2012 and is to take up the reins on Aug. 1.

Dunne's departure comes just after Telefónica completed a review of its UK operation to determine its options after the planned sale to CK Hutchison collapsed in the face of European Union opposition.

The Spain-based parent confirmed that it would retain O2 UK for now and reconsolidate the company into the group. That means O2 UK's earnings will be brought into the group financial statements when it reports earnings for the second quarter of 2016 in late July. The company has reported its UK business as a discontinued operation since the first quarter of 2015.

Dunne has clearly decided that this is the right time to leave the company, although it was not revealed what he will do next.

"The decision to reconsolidate Telefónica UK represents an important and positive milestone for the business and marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for O2," Dunne said

Dunne has previously insisted that O2 UK can thrive as a mobile-only player. During a television interview at Mobile World Congress in February he said there was a good case for a "standalone mobile champion" in the UK.

Indeed, he argued that a mobile-focused player would be "essential" to ensure that consumers have "real choice", while other UK operators such as a combined BT and EE increasingly adopt convergence strategies.

Evans certainly seems to be relishing the challenge that lies ahead.

"I am hugely excited by the opportunity to lead O2 through its next chapter. O2 has a track record in redefining itself to keep pace with technology change and customer demand, and has an enormous amount to offer within the evolving telecoms market," he said.

Evans also oversees the running of the giffgaff brand, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Telefónica, and is chairman of Tesco Mobile.

Meanwhile Bloomberg previously warned that credit ratings agency Moody's may now downgrade Telefónica because the operator has few options remaining to deal with a debt pile of €50.2 billion ($55.9 billion). The sale of O2 UK and a potential IPO of Telefónica's Telxius tower business would have gone some way to easing that debt burden. The Telxius IPO is also believed to be on hold.

Telefónica recently sold a 1.51 per cent stake in China Unicom (Hong Kong) for a total amount of about €322 million.

For more:
- see the O2 UK release

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