Smits Quits KPN

He was once chairman of Dutch national telco KPN Telecom. When he was relieved of that responsibility in November 2001 he became a (more humble?) member of the board and managing director of KPN Mobile -- which could be viewed as a bit of a setup. So Paul Smits had a tough few years. So tough, in fact, that he will resign as of November 1 "at his own request," with CEO Ad Scheepbouwer taking responsibility for the mobile division (see Smits Resigns From KPN).

Could it be that as KPN clears its decks by writing down millions from its mobile holdings to put it on a more even financial keel (see KPN Bites the 3G Bullet), someone from the board has to be seen to be taking the rap?

It's happening throughout Europe, after all. The top echelon at British Telecom (BT) (NYSE: BTY) has had a significant makeover in the past year; Telefònica had an entertaining top table switch as the flamboyant Juan Villalonga felt the leather of his compadres' boots in July 2000; and Ron Sommer somehow managed to hold on at Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) until this summer (was he superglued to his desk, we ask?).

Smits was demoted, put in charge of a mobile division that was burdened with less than promising non-Dutch assets, and is now tidying up before clearing his desk. What, we wonder, does France Telecom SA's Michel Bon already have pencilled in his diary for 2003?

— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung
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