BT chief takes top role at Cellnet

BT has hired a new managing director for its mobile phone subsidiary Cellnet.

BT has hired a new managing director for its mobile phone subsidiary Cellnet.

Peter Erskine’s appointment is seen by City sources as a sign that BT, which owns 60 per cent of the troubled mobile phone network operator, wants to tighten its control of the operation. BT is trying to buy out Securicor, which holds the other 40 per cent stake, but is prevented from doing so by Oftel regulations.

Erskine, formerly managing director of BT’s mobile division and president and chief executive officer of its global corporate business Concert Communications Services, was most recently managing director of BT’s UK business division.

Ray Smith, who has only been in the post since last April, becomes chief operating officer. He also joined from BT, but has had a difficult 12 months.

“The senior management at BT has decided that 1998 will be the year that it sorts out Cellnet,” says Hoare Govett telecoms analyst Jim McCafferty. “Mobile has become a key objective for BT. It has been concentrating on the global side of its business with MCI and Worldcom and is only now realising that its mobile assets are just as valuable.”

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