The departure of Everything Everywhere CEO Tom Alexander came as no surprise to those close to him.
It is no secret that Alexander was brought out of retirement in 2008, initially tasked with reviving the France Télécom-owned brand, with many believing he was also preparing the division for an eventual sale.
However, his return was always a temporary agreement and Alexander is, according to the operator’s statement, leaving for ‘personal reasons’.
As one source says: ‘It’s been a year since the merger and so it is an appropriate time for Tom to go. He was brought out of retirement to do this merger and he has seen it through. Now he wants to do his own thing.’
The appointment of Alexander, a racing car enthusiast and classic car collector, was well-received in the industry. He was a salesman for Telia and Ericsson before rising through the ranks at BT Cellnet to become deputy commercial director before leaving in 1998.
He left Virgin Mobile in 2006 after co-founding the business with Sir Richard Branson in 1999 following its merger with cable operator NTL. He then went on to create Virgin Media.
Alexander was seen as the man to lead the merger of Orange and T-Mobile because of the respect and loyalty he commanded from his staff. However, times are changing at Everything Everywhere and a different kind of skill is needed to consolidate the merger into a strong new business. One analyst told us: ‘Tom is an entrepreneuer and a charismatic leader but a different sort of leadership is needed for the hard grind ahead that Everything Everywhere faces.’
Alexander’s successor Olaf Swantee certainly faces a tough challenge in consolidating the newly merged companies. It is clear both Orange and T-Mobile have lost momentum in the market as a result of the merger and if Everything Everywhere is to thrive in the UK’s highly competitive marketplace it needs to pick up speed.
It goes without saying that there will to be a lot of challenges as the businesses continue to merge. Clearly it now needs to make much faster progress and move a lot more quickly.
It doesn’t help that Everything Everywhere is pretty top heavy. Some of its VPs will need to go.
Alexander’s departure could herald a new and tougher culture at Everything Everywhere.