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Vocus chairman joins NetComm ranks at "pivotal" moment

Vocus chairman joins NetComm ranks at "pivotal" moment

David Spence and David Stewart step into NetComm's boardroom ranks

David Spence - Vocus Communications non-executive chairman and incoming NetComm Wireless non-executive director.

David Spence - Vocus Communications non-executive chairman and incoming NetComm Wireless non-executive director.

Vocus Communications (ASX:VOC) non-executive chairman, David Spence, has stepped into the Netcomm Wireless (ASX:NTC) boardroom at a “pivotal” time for the wireless telecommunications hardware manufacturer.

Spence, who moves into the new non-executive director role from 22 May, is currently chairman of Paypal Australia as well as a major Vocus Group board member, and has a background in building satellite, wireless and fibre networking businesses.

NetComm’s new non-executive director was the chief executive officer of Unwired Limited from 2003 to 2009.

At the same time, NetComm’s former CEO, David Stewart, is set to step back into the company’s ranks in December, after bowing out in December last year. He had been in the dual CEO and managing director roles for nearly 20 years.

“I have had a long and wonderful career at NetComm Wireless and am proud to have led the company during a period of substantial growth,” Stewart told shareholders at the time.

“With a strong management team in place and a global business, I feel that the time is right for me to step down now.”

The publicly-listed company told shareholders that, as is appropriate for corporate governance purposes, Stewart would re-join NetComm’s board 12 months after retiring as an executive director.

For NetComm Wireless chairman, Justin Milne, the appointment of Stewart and Spence to NetComm’s board “enhances” the experience of the company’s leadership team at an important moment in its history.

“NetComm is now at a pivotal growth point,” Milne said. “Fixed wireless broadband units are being delivered to one of the two largest telecommunications companies in the US [United States], and fibre-to-the-curb units for Australia’s NVBN [National Broadband Network] will shortly commence delivery.”

NetComm Wireless inked a master equipment and services supply agreement with nbn, the company building the NBN, in November last year.

The deal sees NetComm Wireless supply nbn with 1-port and 4-port Distribution Point Units (DPUs) that have been designed for the nbn’s Fibre-to-the-Curb (FttC) projects, and related services, with work likely to commence during 2018.

Now, Milne has told shareholders that, with a strong management team in place with global experience and skills to drive its growth, it is important that the company’s board be “further enhanced” with relevant telecommunications experience to deliver on the “exciting growth opportunities we see ahead”.

Spence’s appointment to the NetComm board comes several months after a top tier leadership shuffle at Vocus Group, which saw the boardroom departure of the company’s founder and former CEO, James Spenceley.

Spenceley’s departure came after a failed plan to shake-up the leadership landscape at Vocus, with former Amcom chairman, Tony Grist, also stepping down from the board of directors.

Meanwhile, Vocus Group and its subsidiary, Nextgen Networks, have been drawn into a legal battle with IBM over the companies' respective roles in the troubled 2016 eCensus portal project.

In a legal action filed with the NSW Supreme Court late last year, IBM Australia alleged that Nextgen Networks and Vocus Communications were negligent and in breach of contract in relation to their work associated with the 2016 eCensus portal.

The court documents also reveal that IBM wants Nextgen Networks to pay for the settlement it reached with Australian Government over the Census troubles, alleging that Nextgen Networks is liable for the claim brought against IBM by the ABS.

While the value of the settlement has not been disclosed, it is understood to be worth millions.

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Tags David SpenceIBMnetcomm wirelessnational broadband networkVocusTelcoDavid StewartTelecommunicationsNBN

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