Danon is leaving Eircom for larger French company
PIERRE Danon, the Eircom executive chairman of two years, has stepped down to take up a position as chief executive at French telecoms firm Numericable-Completel.
The news of his departure comes at a time of ongoing tensions between the telecoms firm and the Government over funding for a fibre optic investment across the country.
Mr Danon said yesterday that his decision to leave was taken because it offered a unique opportunity.
"This opportunity is fantastic and the company is already substantially bigger than Eircom."
He added that Numericable Completel, in which private equity giant The Carlyle Group completed a €1.1bn equity investment for a 37.8pc stake, has passed 10 million French homes in terms of cable and over two million of these have fibre services.
"It's what I've been advocating a lot here," he added.
Mr Danon said he will remain with the company for another six months until a successor is found.
He added that he will continue to pursue his plans for fast fibre optic services here.
Recently Communications Minister Eamon Ryan shot down a request from the company for €170m in State funding to help upgrade the country's broadband infrastructure. In addition, telecoms regulator ComReg has reduced Eircom's weighted average cost of capital from 11.5pc to 10.2pc.
"What the Government needs to ask is whether it wants fast fibre services provided here," said Mr Danon. "Ireland came late to broadband and that is still an issue, especially when the economy is a bit threatened."
Commenting on his time at Eircom, he said it had been a pleasure to work with the Eircom executive team and employees.
"Over that time we have significantly accelerated the company's investment in the country's infrastructure, supported by a commitment to invest up to €1bn by the end of 2009, taken major steps to open it to additional competition through local loop unbundling and improved overall customer service levels."
Mr Danon joined Eircom two years ago having advised Babcock on its €2.4bn takeover of the former State telecoms firm. He spent four years as chief executive of BT retail and spent 19 years with Xerox Europe prior to that.
He left BT to become chief operating officer at Cap Gemini but when his ambitions to take up the post of chief executive at hotel group Accor were leaked to the media he lost out on both positions and became a consultant with JP Morgan.