Ofcom confirms Sharon White as new CEO

Ofcom said Sharon White has been appointed as the new CEO of the UK communications regulator with effect from late March 2015, confirming previous reports.

Sharon White, Ofcom's new CEO

Sharon White, the new CEO of Ofcom

The move means that the first woman to be appointed as a permanent secretary at the UK Treasury will be the replacement for Ed Richards, who said he would step down from the position at the end of 2014 after an eight-year tenture.

White's current role is Second Permanent Secretary at HM Treasury, where she is responsible for managing the UK's public finances. Before that she served as Director General, Public Spending at HM Treasury.

"Sharon brings with her an outstanding combination of intellect, political acumen and experience leading complex public organisations. The Ofcom Board is confident that Sharon will provide the leadership and vision to ensure Ofcom continues to promote a thriving communications sector in the UK that operates in the public interest," said Ofcom chairman Dame Patricia Hodgson.

White takes over the leadership of the UK regulator at a time of major upheaval in the country's communications industries. Not only is the telecoms industry on the brink of potential consolidation, but the lines are also blurring between telecoms and broadcasting.

For example, BT is now in talks with Orange and Deutsche Telekom over a potential £12.5 billion (€15.7 billion/$19.6 billion) deal to buy their UK mobile business EE. Hutchison Whampoa is also rumoured to be interested in expanding its UK mobile business, Three UK, with O2 UK seen as a potential target.

Furthermore, moves by BT and rival fixed operator TalkTalk to offer mobile services as part of a quad-play strategy have, in turn, prompted speculation that Vodafone is eyeing cable operator Liberty Global to boost its own convergence ambitions in the UK. Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has since played down the chances of a Liberty Global deal.

BSkyB has also reportedly hired an adviser to explore possible deals that could also allow the broadcasting group to take part in consolidation of the UK telecoms market.

"The communications sector is vital to the economy and delivers essential services to everyone in the UK. I look forward to starting in this fascinating job and building on Ofcom's considerable track record," said White, who will have a salary of £275,000 per annum.

For more:
- see this Ofcom release

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