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Vodafone CEO to be replaced by former Spark boss

Vodafone NZ's long-standing chief executive Russell Stanners will leave the company in October, being replaced by newbie staffer Jason Paris. Paris quit arch-rival Spark at the end of 2017 and joined Vodafone's operations in London in March as a director of convergence acceleration.

Stanners, who has been at Vodafone NZ since 2002 and became CEO in 2005, led the company through a period of huge change, including the takeover of Ihug 2006, of TelstraClear in 2012 and most recently of rural broadband provider Farmside. He also oversaw the transformation of the company from a purely mobile phone business to an integrated telecommunications company and got Vodafone included as a partner in the Government's multi-million dollar Rural Broadband Initiative.

But last year Vodafone had to give up on its merger with pay TV company Sky, after the deal was rejected by the Commerce Commission. Vodafone also decided against a possible stock exchange listing.

Telecommunications Users Association CEO Craig Young says Stanners' decision isn't surprising, given the length of time he's been with Vodafone and the canning of the Sky deal.

"He's done a pretty good job with Vodafone and I imagine he'll be looking for a new challenge. It's been a hard market over the last five-10 years and he's done pretty well."

Vodafone spokeswoman Elissa Downey says Stanners will be making an announcement about his next move "in due course".

With the increasing convergence of telecommunications, internet and content, Paris' background in television may come in handy at Vodafone. He was head of digital media and strategy at TVNZ from 2006 to 2010 and then spent 18 months with TV3/FOUR before joining Spark in 2011 as CEO of home, mobile and business.

Stanners says the company will continue to operate as usual until he finishes up at the end of October.

“It’s been an incredible journey and the time has come for me to step down."

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