Pluthero leaves chief executive post at CWW after six months

17 November 2011 | Kavit Majithia


Troubled Cable & Wireless Worldwide just cannot keep out of the headlines. Following another set of poor financial results, John Pluthero, appointed as chief executive at CWW in June, is leaving only six months after he replaced Jim Marsh.

It appears the controversial appointment of Pluthero, who had previously served as chairman at the company has not gone down well with investors following another set of disastrous financial results.

Throughout his short tenure at the top, Pluthero has overseen a loss of almost a quarter from CWW’s overall market value, and as a result of asset write downs, it has made a pre-tax loss of £433 million. This is not to mention that since Pluthero’s appointment, the company’s share price has fallen by 26% as it continues to struggle following its demerger from Cable & Wireless Communications in early 2010.

He will now hand the reins over to former Vodafone chief executive Gavin Darby in the company’s latest bid to curb its continuing sharp decline.

Many of the failures stem from an ongoing challenge for CWW to implement services that are required in today’s market to keep in touch with its competitors. Pluthero, upon his appointment stated he would implement a range of cost cutting initiatives, pursue a revised pricing tariff and expand into the cloud data hosting market.

It appears, however, that much of what plagues this operator is whether it can shift away from its rapidly declining voice business and compete with the larger players like BT in offering affordable telephony services to UK organisations.

Much of the national media is reporting the departure of Pluthero as a second bid by the company to restructure its assets and “wipe the slate clean”. Indeed, others have not been as kind, and are focusing on his £10 million demerger incentive scheme award last year as a sub factor in an ever thickening negative financial cloud surrounding the company.

Since its demerger, CWW has focused its operations on providing voice, data and internet services mainly in the UK. It perhaps is a testament to the state of CWW’s current operations that, in 2006, Pluthero stated to his staff: “We work for an underperforming business in a crappy industry.”

In his final night as chief executive, Pluthero said he was leaving the company that is “is a strong business with enviable assets and customers”. This ultimately suggests the last five years has seen a huge improvement to the company’s “underperformance in 2006”.

Darby has a huge job on his hands.