Frontier Communications, on the verge of one of the biggest debt restructurings in recent telecom memory, said it has named former Dish executive Bernie Han as its new CEO, replacing Daniel McCarthy.
Frontier has been in talks with bondholders to restructure about $17.5 billion in debt since November. The telecom company has struggled as consumers have abandoned landlines for wireless, and bondholders have pressured Frontier management to come up with a plan, which some reports speculated could include a bankruptcy filing.
Han has more than 30 years experience in the telecom industry, serving more than 11 years in various roles at Dish, including chief financial officer, chief operating officer and EVP of strategic planning. In announcing the appointment, Frontier said Han had been retained as a strategic adviser to the company since Oct. 16, and has been actively supporting efforts to strengthen its financial position.
“Bernie is a proven industry leader who has a broad-based background with a long track record of developing organizational talent and enhancing financial and operational performance while driving and navigating strategic shifts in the industry,” Frontier chairman Pamela Reeve said in a press release. “In addition, he has a passion for serving customers with new and innovative solutions that meet their evolving needs with a focus on increasing value for all stakeholders. He brings a disciplined approach to operations management, having led turnaround initiatives at Dish Network that increased profitability, enhanced customer experiences and reduced churn rate. The Finance Committee and entire Board are confident that, as CEO, Bernie will further Frontier’s efforts to drive operational improvements in our business while continuing to evaluate the company’s capital structure.”
Reeve also thanked McCarthy for his nearly 30 years at the company, adding that as Frontier moves to improve its financial position, “now is the right time to transition leadership. We thank Dan for his nearly three decades of service to Frontier and tireless commitment to customers and employees and wish him the best in the future.”
McCarthy was named CEO of Frontier in 2015, after then-chairman and CEO Maggie Wilderotter passed the CEO baton in March of that year. Wilderotter stepped down as chairman of the company in April 2016, and was replaced by Reeve.
In a press release, McCarthy said he is leaving Frontier in “great hands.”
“I remain a firm believer in Frontier’s future,” McCarthy continued. “I look forward to cheering the team on, and I want to thank everyone I have had the pleasure to work with and learn from during my time with Frontier.”
Frontier’s problems seemed to mount shortly after it spent about $10.5 billion on former Verizon Communications Fios wireline properties in California, Texas and Florida in 2015, which doubled the carrier’s size. But the transition was rife with problems, causing many customers to cancel service. According to Frontier’s financial statements, Frontier’s total video subscribers have declined from 1.526 million in Q3 2016 to 698,000 in Q3 2019.
In a press release, Han acknowledged that he takes the helm “at a time where we have both challenges to overcome and substantial opportunities ahead. I look forward to working with the Board of Directors and leadership team as we continue to execute on our initiatives to drive operational performance, invest in our business and become a stronger partner to our residential and enterprise customers.”
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