Shake-up at C&W hits executives

Dick Brown, the energetic chief executive of Cable & Wireless, has parted company with at least a quarter of the group's most senior executives this year, it has emerged. Chris Godsmark reports on the drive to shake up C&W's management culture.

Since the beginning of the year Mr Brown has embarked on a radical strategy to inject new blood into Cable &Wireless's world-wide operations, which stretch from the Caribbean to Hong Kong and Japan.

At a briefing to around 100 executives, held in Cable &Wireless's training college in Coventry recently, Mr Brown said only half of those who had attended the previous gathering six months before were still in the same jobs. A Cable &Wireless spokesman said about a quarter of the executives had left the company altogether while the remainder had been moved to new responsibilities.

The managers affected were in some of the most senior jobs in Cable &Wireless, many with the title of "director" and earning salaries of around pounds 100,000.

Several were responsible for Cable &Wireless's overseas operations, including include Richard Wainright-Lee, who was head of regional operations and deputy finance director; Geoff Wiggan, another director for regional businesses and Richard Goswell, who dealt with the group's Asian activities.

The unprecedented restructuring has been seen internally as an attempt by Mr Brown, an American who joined Cable &Wireless 15 months ago, to inject a more US-orientated corporate culture into the formerly state- owned telephones empire.

However, the changes have met opposition from within Cable &Wireless's ranks, with the old guard arguing that Mr Brown has diluted much of the international knowledge, built up over decades, which helped the group win overseas operating licences. One former senior director warned that the company no longer had enough senior managers. "Some of the best people have left, which seems a great shame to me," he said.