Telefonica’s U.K. Arm O2 Names Mark Evans CEO, Replacing Dunne

  • Spanish carrier reconsolidated U.K. unit after failed deal
  • New chief faces industry moving toward bundled telecom offers

Telefonica SA named Mark Evans chief executive officer of its U.K. wireless business 02, replacing Ronan Dunne, who will step down as the carrier faces life on its own after a failed merger in the competitive British market.

Evans is currently chief financial officer of O2. Telefonica shelved plans to sell a stake in the unit after Britain’s decision to leave the European Union roiled markets. Telefonica, which is based in Madrid, was weighing options for 02 after the European Commission blocked its 10.25 billion-pound ($13.8 billion) sale to CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. in May.

Dunne has said O2 can thrive as a standalone mobile operator, even as its competitors move to roll out bundled offers that combine wireless, fixed-line, broadband and television services. O2 has a deal with pay-TV operator Sky Plc to sell network capacity for its new mobile service.

Dunne, 51, is one of the longest-serving CEOs in the U.K. phone business, which has been turned on its head by deals like BT Group Plc’s acquisition of mobile carrier EE. Since he became chief in 2008, O2 has increased its customer numbers to 25 million from 18 million, it said in a statement on its website.

Under Hutchison’s plan to buy O2, Dunne was set to yield to David Dyson, head of Hutchison’s Three U.K. unit, as head of the combined companies. Dunne “will continue to support the business with its strategic ambitions until September,” O2 said, but didn’t indicate what he will do next.

Evans, 47, who previously worked at Vodafone Group Plc and Virgin Media, joined O2 in January 2012.

“Mark’s contribution as CFO has been instrumental in delivering revenue and profit growth over the last four years and I know the business will be in good hands with him as leader,” Telefonica CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete said in a statement.

Telefonica hoped to sell a stake in O2 in order to reduce its debt, but shelved plans for a possible initial public stock offering and reconsolidated the U.K. unit after European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager objected to the Hutchison deal and the U.K. voted to leave the EU in a June 23 referendum.

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