Surprise name to head up Oftel

A FORMER civil servant and director of NatWest was yesterday named as the surprise successor to Don Cruickshank as head of the telecommunications regulator, Oftel.

David Edmonds, 54, will take over the pounds 120,000-a-year post as director- general of Telecommunications a week tomorrow on a three-year contract. He is able to move into the job at very short notice because he does not currently have a full-time job, having left NatWest at the end of last year.

Mr Edmonds was an unexpected choice for the job since he has no experience of telecommunications or regulation. However, Margaret Beckett, President of the Board of Trade, said she felt Mr Edmonds would do an excellent job.

The telecoms industry was, she added, evolving rapidly and converging fast with other sectors such as broadcasting and information technology and Mr Edmonds had "direct experience of managing significant management change and of working in a competitive business environment".

Analysts, however, were non-plussed, pointing to his lack of relevant experience and comparatively short time in the private sector. He takes up the post at a critical time with Mrs Beckett about to publish a Green Paper on utility regulation and speculation that Oftel may merge with or take over some of the functions of the Independent Television Commission. Mr Cruickshank, the departing director general, has called for the creation of a new Electronic Communications Commission.

Mr Edmonds' last job was as managing director of group central services for NatWest.

Outlook, page 25

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