C&W names Olsen as interim chief

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The Independent Online

Industrial Correspondent

Cable & Wireless has appointed Rod Olsen, finance director, as acting chief executive as it strives to fill the post dramatically vacated last month by James Ross.

The telecommunications group has been in turmoil since the simultaneous departure of Mr Ross and Lord Young, then chairman, after a vicious boardroom row.

The appointment of Mr Olsen, a New Zealander, requires a change of articles for C&W. Under the present rules, the executive chairman, or failing that the chief executive, must be a British citizen. Brian Smith, the BAA chairman who succeeded Lord Young, holds the C&W chair in a non-executive role.

The interim appointment fuels speculation that C&W is having problems filling the chief executive's post. Sources in the company admit that it could take some months and there is a view among some City analysts that the uncertainty over the leadership leaves C&W vulnerable to a takeover bid.

C&W declined to comment on how much Mr Olsen will be paid for the interim position. His total pay as finance director is about pounds 313,000 compared with the pounds 390,000 commanded by Mr Ross. C&W also refuse to comment on whether he could be considered for the job on a full-time basis. Industry insiders say that Mr Olsen was already taking on more operational responsibilities even before the disagreement between Lord Young and Mr Ross erupted publicly.