Baby Bell man to take helm at C&W

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Cable & Wireless yesterday ended its six-month search for a new chief executive by appointing Dick Brown, an American telecoms executive with 27 years experience in the industry, to the post.

Mr Brown is president and chief executive officer of H&R Block, parent company of the on-line network provider CompuServe. Before that he held senior posts with a number of US telecoms operators culminating in the vice-chairmanship of the regional Bell company Ameritech Corporation.

He succeeds Rod Olsen, who was drafted in as acting chief executive last autumn after C&W's chairman, Lord Young, and its chief executive, James Ross, were ousted following a boardroom bust-up.

Mr Brown's task will be to develop C&W's strategy following the collapse of its pounds 33bn merger talks with British Telecom. Prime issues are what to do with Mercury Communications, the UK rival to BT, and its Far East operations.

Mr Olsen will become deputy chief executive with special responsibility for developing interests in the Asia Pacific region where C&W has a 57.5 per cent stake in Hongkong Telecom.