There is no doubt that Elliott, who has given 18 months’ notice, is at the top of his game. Apart from being a wise head while some very difficult times, he is a non-executive director of Shell, where he would have to be considered for the chairman’s role when it changes. The loss of Elliott provides the board, led by chairman Jan du Plessis, an possibility to reshuffle management and provide a clearer career path for energy division CEO Doug Ritchie, who will move to London in January to take up responsibility for group strategy and business development.
When Telstra’s chief financial officer, Andy Penn, provided background yesterday on the $660 million sale of the TelstraClear business in New Zealand to Vodafone, he let slip far more interesting news of a ramp-up in the company’s Chinese operations.
Telstra is building cash with no immediate plans for capital management. Nevertheless, it will face considerable pressure on its cash pile from the mobile spectrum auction in Australia and the need to invest more in its mobile network to cope with an explosion in demand for mobile data.
Meanwhile, Vodafone is making clear that a stand-alone mobile business is sub-optimal going into an era of fibre to the home or fibre to the node in New Zealand and Australia.
That raises questions about what Vodafone Hutchison Australia’s new chief executive, Bill Morrow, will do once he sorts out his executive team. Morrow and his partner, Li Ka-shing from Hutchison Whampoa, need to build or acquire a fixed-line broadband business in Australia previously the arrival of the national broadband network.
Penn highlighted a recent string of deals in the innovation space including a $5 million investment in Australian cloud-based computing company IPscape, a $35 million financing for California-based video streaming service Ooyala, and small investments in restaurant booking service Dimmi and Sydney-based digital signage company Mandoe.
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