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Telstra names Trujillo as new CEO


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SYDNEY, Australia (CNN)) -- Australia's biggest telecommunications company, Telstra, has named Solomon Trujillo as its new chief executive officer, replacing the outgoing Ziggy Switkowski.

Trujillo, a 53-year-old American, was previously CEO of telephone companies Orange, based in London, and U.S. West Inc.

The appointment comes ahead of plans by the Australian government to sell off its remaining majority stake in Telstra within the next three years, expected to raise more than Aust. $30 billion ($21 billion).

The new CEO will join the company on July 1, Telstra chairman Donald McGauchie said in a statement released Thursday.

Trujillo's roles with Orange in Europe and US West "covering diverse geographies" meant he had the experience running businesses in geographies similar to Australia, McGauchie said.

"During his career he (Trujillo) has successfully managed fixed-line, wireless, broadband and directory businesses -- virtually every facet of Telstra's business," he said.

The Telstra board would expect Trujillo to "drive cultural and organizational change throughout Telstra, enabling the corporation to further embrace a service-driven, customer-focused way of doing business."

Despite still being half owned by the government, Telstra has the highest number of retail shareholders of any company in Australia thanks to heavily marketed sell-offs of two tranches of the company in 1997 and 1999.

The planned sell off of the remaining stake and subsequent full privatization of the carrier, which is vehemently opposed by many rural customers and opposition politicians, is likely to occupy a good deal of Trujillo's management time.

Telstra shares jumped on the news Thursday, trading 1.4 percent higher at Aust. $5.15 a share.

At a market capitalization of more than A$30 billion ($21 billion), Telstra is one of Australia's largest and best-known companies in its domestic market.

Switkowski, the departing CEO, leaves with a mixed record, having overseen an ill-fated Asian expansion strategy and a 35 percent decline in the company's share price since taking the reins in 1999.


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