Sunday, July 13, 2008

The new BCE: No taxes, higher phone costs, 2,000 fewer jobs. ......lame opposition parties take a bow

Who is minding Ottawa and Canada’s Telecommunications Act? We know it isn’t the Harper Conservatives. So where are the “opposition” parties on this matter?

Is BCE too big and influential to be taken on by the Liberals as an issue that negatively affects all Canadians and our country’s competitiveness?

Ditto the NDP and the Bloc? It would appear so, since every highly predictable negative outcome will occur: complete loss of tax revenue, loss of jobs, higher phone costs, etc., etc. I guess the Bloc doesn’t care that BCE will now be run out of Toronto. I guess the only other choice would have been New York. Certainly not Montreal. What purpose would that serve, when Teachers’ is based in Toronto and the other three owners in New York?

Meanwhile, the only party to speak out against the COMPLETE IRONY of tax leakage from the LBO of BCE is the Green Party.

BCE to cull 2,000 managers in 100 days

CEO stays in Toronto

Sean Silcoff, Financial Post Published: Saturday, July 12, 2008

MONTREAL - BCE Inc. is set to make deep cuts to its management ranks as it prepares to be taken private by a group led by Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.

But while BCE insiders say more than 2,000 people out of a top-heavy group of roughly 15,000 managers will lose their jobs during a "100-day plan" unveiled yesterday by new chief executive George Cope, BCE's main unit, Bell Canada, is hoping to cast a different public image.

Namely, BCE intends to overcome its biggest weakness -- underperformance in the growing wireless-phone sector by its Bell Mobility business --by improving customer service and product offerings and investing heavily in its network and technology.

"Our competitors have lower cost structures than ours, and we cannot allow them to enjoy this competitive advantage any longer," Mr. Cope said in an e-mail to BCE insiders yesterday to outline his plan. "Our rivals have invested their savings in improving their networks, products, services and prices. We will do the same."

To kick off the plan, the 46year-old Mr. Cope-- who will continue to live and work in Toronto but travel regularly to BCE headquarters in Montreal -- unveiled BCE's new management team, notable for a lack of outsiders and the fact it is composed of 12 people, down from 17. Only executive vice-president David Wells is from outside Bell, although he had worked for the company for the first 25 years of his career.

Some key executives -- including Siim Vanaselja, chief financial officer, and Wade Oosterman, wireless president -- are keeping or adding to their existing jobs.

"Bell didn't go into free agency and bring in some sort of outside star," said one informed observer. "These are people who know Bell … and have had a considerable period to prepare" during the deal's lengthy closing period. "If you make changes, you need people who know where all the skeletons are and can work quickly."

But the team is dominated by relative newcomers: Twothirds have joined BCE in the past three years. That includes Mr. Cope, who was lured away by his predecessor, Michael Sabia, in 2005 from Telus Corp., where he led its mobile-phone unit, to serve as Bell president and chief operating officer. Three others, including Mr. Oosterman, worked with Mr. Cope at Telus.

Mr. Cope noted in an interview that while the team is smaller, one extra executive is dedicated to customer service. "It's an important message to all of our team members," he said. "The customer level is where we have to win this game."

Many of the initiatives step up moves that have been underway for years at BCE: For example, Bell has cut thousands of jobs and spent billions of dollars on its networks. Investments in its wireless business have led to greater coverage and fewer dropped calls. Bell has also recently invested to spruce up its shabby retail store network.

But with BCE set to take on $32-billion in new debt in a buyout set to close on Dec. 11, the focus will be on improving cash flow. Mr. Cope "has to get Bell more nimble," said the informed source. "That means you take it out at the top. The cuts won't be at the customer-facing level or the guys in the trucks."

Mr. Cope said improving Bell's position in the wireless market -- where it lags its two rivals in performance and faces new entrants -- "absolutely is core to value creation going forward."

He provided few specifics about his plan, but said he will soon announce marketing and investment initiatives, including technology and new products and services "that we really believe will be game changers." And while the new owners are expected to divest some assets, Mr. Cope said Bell's TV assets, including its ExpressVu satellite service, "will continue to be a core part of our strategy."

Mr. Cope declined to offer specifics about layoffs. But there will be plenty of movement, even among the roughly 50,000 employees remaining within the BCE fold. BCE is preparing to move its head office to a new complex near its present headquarters in Montreal. In addition, Bell is moving much of its operations to Mississauga, Ont.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cope, who is married with three teenaged children and lives in Toronto's Lawrence Park area, said he would get an apartment in Montreal as "I'm obviously going to be [there] a lot."


Dr Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Mike said...

All I can say is thank God for the Green Party & Elizabeth May---it seems that more & more they are the only party that does not have it`s head buried in the sand Or so far up it`s butt that the members cannot see the light of day.

The official opposition parties (Liberals ,NDP, Bloc) seem to be almost unanimously absent when it comes time to protect it`s citizens from some ridiculous government action.

We don`t have to look any further than the inclusion of the trust tax within a budget bill that gained wide-spread support & allowed it`s passage.

Thank you to everyone that voted for a bill which cost the small investors in Canada billions of yet unrecovered savings.

Lame opposition parties is right.

Maybe if we could just elect Elizabeth May & some of her colleagues , we might yet have an opposition party with some balls.

Dr Mike Popovich.

Robert Gibbs said...

Ah, but don't forget that it is easy to pontificate when doing so from the sidelines.