People and Business: Revolving doors

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The Independent Online
THE pounds 5BN privatisation of Ireland's state phone monopoly Telecom Eireann (TE), set for the end of June, is suffering from "revolving door" syndrome. There has been a flurry of top level departures and appointments this week.

It started with Brian Thompson, an American heavy hitter and vice-chairman of Q West, who was brought in by the Irish government in January to head up TE during the flotation. A well-known member of the Irish-American community and friend of the Kennedy clan, Dublin viewed Mr Thompson as the perfect candidate to turn TE into a global player. On Monday Mr Thompson resigned in favour of a full-time job with Global Tele Systems (GTS). He had formerly held a part-time job with GTS, but found that it had an Irish subsidiary, thus creating a conflict of interest with his TE job.

Dublin immediately replaced him with Ray MacSharry, Ireland's former European agriculture commissioner. This, however, annoyed TE's two strategic partners, the state telecoms monopolies in Holland and Sweden, KPN and Telia respectively. They felt they should have been consulted.

To make things worse, 24 hours later Ron Bolger, vice- chairman of TE, resigned his post, complaining bitterly that he had been passed over for the top job in favour of Mr MacSharry.

Then yesterday TE appointed a chief financial officer, Malcolm Fallon, who was one of the chaps sent in to clean up the mess at British Biotech following the "whistle-blowing" affair last year. Mr Fallon, a former finance director at British Telecom's personnel division, also once worked for Asil Nadir's Polly Peck.

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