BT has replaced Cellnet?s managing director with one of its own board directors, signalling its readiness to take full ownership of the mobile operator.
Peter Erskine, currently managing director of BT?s UK business division, will replace Ray Smith as head of Cellnet. Smith was originally installed at Cellnet by BT a year ago, and will now become chief operating officer.
A BT representative dismissed claims that Smith had been demoted, saying: ?It?s not a side step, it?s just a move.?
Sources within Cellnet said the appointment of Erskine - a high flyer at BT who was previously Smith?s boss - ?elevates the importance of Cellnet for BT?. Erskine has a seat on BT?s board, which Smith lacked.
It is widely expected that BT will acquire the 40 per cent stake it does not own in Cellnet. This share is currently held by Securicor, which is reported to be keen to sell. BT had previously agreed to pay Securicor #1.7 billion for its share, but this was blocked by the Tory government, but the current administration is believed to be ready to give the go-ahead for the sale later this year, By this time though, the price is likely to have shot up to #2.5 billion.
Erskine will also head up BT?s own mobile service provider business, BT Mobility, though this will remain separate from Cellnet, continued the BT spokesperson.
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