Internal candidate chosen to lead NBN

Stephen Rue will succeed Bill Morrow as CEO of NBN, effective September 1, 2018. Rue (pictured) joined NBN Co in July 2014 as chief financial officer. Prior to this he spent 17 years in various leadership roles, including a decade as CFO at News Corp Australia. He has also served as a director at Foxtel, REA Group and Australian Associated Press, as well as chairman of the Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club.

NBN chair Dr Ziggy Switkowski said with the network construction moving through a critical phase to completion in 2020, the Board considered Rue’s experience, including at NBN Co, and skills in financial, operational and project management to be especially well suited to the challenge.

“The appointment of a quality internal candidate reduces the risk of loss of momentum in the business from the leadership change, and ensures continuing ownership and accountability for delivery of the NBN Co Corporate Plan,” he said.

Industry analyst Paul Budde said the internal appointment clearly indicates no changes, no talks about write downs, privatisation or splitting of the company. “The message is ‘steady as you go’, continuing on the path the government and NBN co have set out for their broadband business” he said. “Whether you like the current NBN policy or not, to finish this job does make sense”.

However, Budde said questions do remain and any resolution will take years of preparation and organisation and this delay further increases uncertainty in the telecoms market.

“It will most certainly have a negative effect on any investments in the telecoms industry following the finalisation of the NBN roll out. There is a clear need for further investments to bring the network up to scratch and the question is who is going to do this? What will be the role of Telstra in all of this and how will this affect its future?”

According to Budde, smaller players will be squeezed out of the market and with the rollout nearing completion there will be fewer customers that need to be transferred and therefore fewer opportunities to increase market share.

“Without a clear direction of where the NBN will go after it has completed its roll out more problems will arrive. These are issues that do need to be resolved and we even don’t have a robust debate on these issues as the government is shying away from any discussion on this. The ACCC, as well as the industry, has on several occasions asked the government to start the dialogue but so far to no avail and there is very little chance that this will happen before the next federal election.”

More than one in two Australians are now able to connect to the NBN broadband access network and 99% of the country is either in design, construction or complete.

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