(Adds comments from analyst, former colleague of incoming CEO.
Updates share price)
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, March 31 Canadian telecommunications
company Telus Corp shuffled its top ranks on Monday, with
Chief Executive Officer Darren Entwistle set to become executive
chairman and long-time lieutenant Joe Natale due to replace him.
Analysts were broadly positive about the promotion of
Natale, who is currently Telus' chief commercial officer, though
Entwistle is expected to remain active in his new role.
"I think that Natale will be running the show but that
Darren very much wants to keep a hand on the tiller, if not on
the sails," said Iain Grant, managing director at SeaBoard
Group, a telecom consultancy.
Entwistle has led Vancouver-based Telus for the last 14
years. He is widely lauded for taking a C$6 billion-plus gamble
to buy cellular company Clearnet early in his tenure in order to
build a wireless service that is now the single-largest revenue
generator for Telus.
But he was also known as a hard-driven executive willing to
confront policymakers, speaking out forcefully last year against
a range of steps Ottawa took to spur more competition in the
"Darren can be more confrontational and goal-directed where
Natale is more consensus-oriented. That might bode well for
relationships in Ottawa," said SeaBoard's Grant.
Nikolas Petridis, a former Telus senior sales manager who
worked with Natale, also said his appointment as CEO could help
salve the company's relationship with the federal government.
"Whenever you change the decision-making process, it always
gives an opportunity to get back to the table," he said.
Petridis, now a vice president of wholesale for Fibernetics,
said Natale was an approachable executive who worked his way up
the chain of command at Telus and had a good balance between his
business sense and social abilities.
Dvai Ghose, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, said Telus
had indicated that Entwistle would remain in charge of strategy
and operations in his new board role, and added that Natale
"offers solid continuity and breadth of experience."
Shares of the company, which has a national wireless network
and provides Internet, television and landline services mostly
in Western Canada, were down 0.7 percent at C$40.08 in afternoon
trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The company said Natale would join its board and continue to
be based in Toronto.
The changes came after the retirement of current Telus
Chairman Brian Canfield, who is stepping down after almost six
decades in the Canadian telecom industry, mostly with Telus.
Dick Auchinleck, who has been on the company's board for
more than a decade, will become lead director of Telus.
All the changes will take effect at the company's annual
meeting on May 8.
(Additional reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe,
Lisa Von Ahn, Jeffrey Hodgson and Lisa Shumaker)