Mike Banwell is to become chief of Vodafone’s wholesale division in place of Nick Parbutt, who was promoted to Vodafone UK director of strategy and wholesale late last year.
The management restructure will see Banwell, who is currently head of business services at Vodafone’s wholesale division, take up his new role as director of wholesale from 1 July.
Vodafone’s acting wholesale director Tim Metcalf will become head of business development at the wholesale division. Both Banwell and Metcalf will report to Parbutt.
Banwell’s appointment comes as Vodafone continues its drive into the wholesale market.
News of the management moves came in a statement to Vodafone partners. In it the company said Banwell had played a ‘pivotal role’ in the acquisition of Cable & Wireless Worldwide, the creation of the mobile advertising and payments joint venture Weve, with EE and O2, and the delivery of Wi-Fi toVodafone customers on London Underground in partnership with Virgin Media.
Banwell held a number of senior commercial and finance management positions in IBM, Silicon Graphics and Oracle before joining Vodafone, including CFO of mobile application service provider Aspective, which was acquired by Vodafone in 2006.
Banwell, an industry veteran of 30 years’ experience, is seen as a ‘big hitter’ by sources in the MVNO industry. However, others said Tim Metcalf had performed well as interim head of wholesale, expressing disappointment at the restructuring.
One partner said: ‘I am sorry to see Tim go. He did an excellent job and has hoped he would be there in a permanent role.’
Vodafone’s wholesale division is seen as a major engine of growth for the operator which aims to become the market leader in MVNO wholesale revenues.
The network has around 15 MVNOs including Lebara, BT, Talkmobile, TalkTalk, TomTom and Amazon, as well as its partners Cognatel, Gamma and Teleena.
Analysts said this week that Vodafone is targeting the nascent machine-to-machine market (M2M) which presents significant opportunities for the wholesale market in areas such as smart metering.
Banwell’s experience at IBM, Silicon Graphics, Oracle and Aspective is expected to play a key role in building contacts in the M2M industry.
Phil Kendall, director at Strategy Analytics said: ‘Clearly there are huge opportunities open to Vodafone in connecting non-traditional devices other than phones and tablets, such as in consumer electronics and the automotive industry.
He added: ‘Vodafone has already done some interesting deals in that area such as the British Gas smart metering programme and the Kindle deal with Amazon which was seen as something of a coup. It will be interesting to see where they will focus next.’
Author: Carol Millett