Frontier Communications said it has named Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery as its new CEO. Jeffery will replace Bernie Han, who will step down March 1.
Frontier filed for Chapter 11 protection in April and has been winding through a restructuring process for months. Its reorganization plan was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in August and the company said that it has received regulatory approval in 12 states for its restructuring plan. It expects to emerge from Chapter 11 in early 2021.
After Jeffery takes the helm, Han, who joined Frontier in December 2019 from Dish Network, will step down, but will remain a member of the company’s board of directors and will assist in the CEO transition. Jeffery will join the board of directors after the company emerges from Chapter 11.
“There is still important work to do in unlocking Frontier’s full potential, and I am excited to facilitate the transition and pass the CEO baton to someone with Nick’s outstanding track record,” Han said in a press release. “I want to again thank the entire Frontier team for their support as we see the chapter 11 process through to completion.”
Jeffery was selected after an extensive internal and external search for a new CEO. He has about 30 years of experience, most recently at Vodafone UK, where he helped engineer a turnaround at the British wireless and wireline operator. According to Frontier, during Jeffery’s tenure at Vodafone UK, the unit of Vodafone PLC grew revenue and market share, improved customer service, reduced churn and increased customer and employee satisfaction. Prior to his tenure at Vodafone UK, where he spent eight years, the last four as CEO, Jeffery spent more than a decade at Cable & Wireless, where he led the UK and international markets business units.
In a press release, Robert Schriesheim, chairman of the finance committee of Frontier’s board of directors, said that in addition to Jeffery becoming CEO, John Stratton will become Frontier’s executive chairman after it emerges from Chapter 11.
“We are now at a point of natural evolution in our transformation and, following a rigorous process, the search committee concluded that Nick is the right CEO to lead Frontier through its next phase of investment and profitable growth,” Schriesheim said in the release. “On behalf of the Finance Committee and Board, I want to thank Bernie for his leadership in executing Frontier’s operational turnaround while managing the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bernie has demonstrated his world-class skills as a CEO operator, managing large-scale complexity with a relentless focus on driving performance and emphasizing accountability. His contributions have helped to reposition Frontier as a stronger, more resilient business, and we appreciate his willingness to guide the CEO transition and remain on the Board through transition.”
Frontier said it is making progress in executing its reorganization plan, including recapitalizing the balance sheet, which upon emergence, will include reducing its debt by about $11 billion and its annual interest expense by about $1 billion. The company also plans to re-focus its efforts to become a fiber-based broadband service provider, and has had five straight quarters of consumer broadband subscriber growth.
“Frontier owns a unique set of assets and maintains a competitive market position,” Jeffery said in the release. “My immediate focus will be on serving our customers as we enhance the network through investments in our existing footprint and in adjacent markets while building operational excellence across the organization. I am committed to delivering world-class customer service. I look forward to speaking and meeting with our employees while working with Bernie, the Board and leadership team to ensure a seamless transition.”
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Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.