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(Bloomberg) -- When Royal KPN NV picked Italian-Colombian Maximo Ibarra as its first non-Dutch chief executive officer, some investors saw it as a precursor to foreign expansion. Two years on, the phone company’s experiment with international leadership has come unstuck after Ibarra quit early and its top pick to replace him -- Belgian executive Dominique Leroy -- became embroiled in a share-dealing probe. A day after dropping her, KPN named Chief Operating Officer Joost Farwerck, a Dutch company veteran, to the top job.Farwerck looks like the safe option for KPN’s Supervisory Board Chairman Duco Sickinghe, and suggests any foreign growth ambitions the company may have entertained are over for now.Ibarra came with a track record of integrating large companies and had ambitions to put KPN back on the acquisition trail to give it the kind of scale enjoyed by other former national telecom monopolies. That didn’t happen and he quit in June to lead Comcast Corp.’s Sky Italia.Sickinghe then turned to Leroy, the CEO of Belgian carrier Proximus SADP and the most senior woman in European telecommunications, to replace Ibarra. He backtracked on Monday following media reports that police had conducted searches of her home in relation to an investigation over possible insider trading. Leroy said the timing of her departure for KPN had nothing to do with her decision to sell the stock of her former employer.Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Sickinghe said the company had faced “unexpected challenges” in its CEO search. Leroy, who has already left Proximus, will receive compensation for certain expenses and time she invested in KPN since she was picked for the job, a KPN spokeswoman said.KPN shares were down 1% as of 9:59 a.m. in Amsterdam.Farwerck has been with KPN since 1994 and has relatively little international experience. The 54-year-old will have to continue cutting costs and find fresh revenue streams since consolidation in the industry hasn’t been enough to ease competitive pressures in KPN’s home market.Chris Figee, who is currently chief financial officer at Dutch insurer ASR Nederland NV, will replace Jan Kees de Jager as CFO in February, the company said Tuesday.(Updates with share price in seventh paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Joost Akkermans in Amsterdam at email@example.com;Thomas Mulier in Geneva at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Thomas Pfeiffer at email@example.com, Jennifer RyanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Royal KPN NV reversed a decision to hire Dominique Leroy, the former head of Belgian phone carrier Proximus SADP, as chief executive officer following reports of an investigation into her sales of shares at her old employer.KPN said Sept. 5 that Leroy would leave the top job at Proximus to join the company as CEO at the start of December. Local media later reported that police conducted searches of Leroy’s home in relation to an investigation over possible insider trading. Since she stepped down from the top job at Proximus on Sept. 20, the most senior woman in European telecommunications now has no company to run.Her troubles also represent a conundrum for KPN and Proximus, which are both under pressure to find new CEOs to guide them through intense competition in their respective markets. KPN’s leadership vacuum is yet another blow to Supervisory Board Chairman Duco Sickinghe, after current CEO Maximo Ibarra quit to lead Comcast Corp.’s Sky Italia.“This was a difficult decision for the Supervisory Board given the track record of Mrs. Dominique Leroy as a very accomplished executive,” Sickinghe said in the statement. “However, the uncertainty around timing results in a situation, which the supervisory board considers not in the interest of KPN.”KPN said it’s unclear how long Belgian authorities will need to conduct their procedures. KPN shares were down 1% at 12:09 p.m. in Amsterdam.Leroy StatementA spokesman at Proximus wasn’t able immediately to provide contact details for Leroy. A Sept. 8 statement by her explained the timing of her sale of Proximus shares on Aug. 1.That day was the first on which new transactions were possible following a closed period that started Nov. 22, according to the statement. She’d instructed the bank the end of July to sell shares on that day, and at that time she’d been in discussion with Proximus about renewing her contract and other parties, including KPN, though she had not yet decided to leave her employer.“I understand that with hindsight the timing can create the perception that I did this exactly prior and because of my departure. This is surely not the reason for my sale of shares,” she said in the statement. “I regret that this perception has been created, this is not in line with my values where integrity and transparency are very high.”Joost Farwerck, chief operating officer, will serve temporarily as chairman of the management board and executive committee, KPN said Monday.Ibarra had held ambitions to put KPN on the acquisition trail, but when this didn’t happen he turned his focus to cutting jobs and streamlining the company’s IT systems.Any new leader would have to continue cutting costs and find fresh revenue streams since consolidation in the industry hasn’t been enough to ease competitive pressures in the Dutch market. The company has been dealing with the migration of customers to different pricing structures, which has exacerbated sales weakness in some business units.KPN’s decision to cancel Leroy’s hiring “prolongs management uncertainty that’s not helpful at a time when KPN is executing its brand consolidation strategy and competitors are improving their performances,” Erhan Gurses, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in a note. “It deprives the Dutch incumbent of a leader with a proven track record built in a culturally and operationally similar environment.”(Adds Sept. 8 statement from Leroy in sixth-eighth paragraphs. Updates shares.)\--With assistance from Thomas Mulier.To contact the reporters on this story: Thomas Seal in London at firstname.lastname@example.org;Stefan Nicola in Berlin at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Thomas Pfeiffer at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jennifer RyanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.