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New Chairman At Newcall Group

New Chairman At Newcall Group

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – 20 January 2003 Jim Bracknell, managing director of Newcall Group Limited (NGL), has been appointed chairman of the NZSE-listed company. His appointment became effective on 31 December 2002.

Mr Bracknell succeeds David Sun who resigned as chairman due to “pressing business commitments” but has indicated his intention to remain on the board. He will stand for re-election at the group’s next annual general meeting in June 2003.

Mr Sun is managing director of Charoong Thai Wire & Cable Co Ltd, the cornerstone shareholder in NGL, and has a significant personal shareholding in the company.

Mr Bracknell, who remains managing director of NGL, has over 30 years successful experience in the international market place in sales, marketing and operations, as well as large scale banking and electronic funds transfer networks utilising both wired and wireless technologies.

He is on the boards of Iprolink Ltd, Citadel Investments Ltd and Encil Energy Ltd, and is chairman and president of Ming Asia Group Ltd, a privately held telecommunications and trading company. He is also senior advisor to Siam Fiber Optics Company Ltd.

He was previously vice president of International Business Development for Loxley Public Company Ltd and group vice president of International Products and Services for Intellicall, Inc., a Dallas based manufacturer and marketer of public pay phones listed on the New York Stock Exchange. While there, he launched their international operations signing contracts of US$9 million in Argentina and US$24 million in Indonesia.

As executive vice president and general manager for US Stock Exchange-listed InterDigital Communications Corporation, he launched their international operations where sales grew from zero to over US$40 million in three years. This achievement resulted in IDC being listed at the time in INC Magazine as one of the fastest growing international companies in the United States.

While based in London and Brussels, he had P&L responsibility for NCR Corporation's European Software and Data Centers, an operation with over 1500 Europe based employees and US$150 million in annual revenues. He was also President of NCR Telecommunication Services, Inc., a start-up venture which established NCR in the telephone service business. The business unit was subsequently sold to US Sprint.

After taking over as managing director of NGL in 2001, Mr Bracknell immediately committed himself to restructuring and re-energising the group. His single-minded objective has been to restore NGL to profitability and to maximize shareholder value by managing group assets with other successful businesses and, where possible, taking it into new areas of activity.

His first action as managing director was to close down the company’s unprofitable telecommunications arm to “free the company from operating losses that resulted from being a tolls reseller in an uncompetitive environment”.

Next he sold off the 20,000 strong customer base of NGL’s profitable electricity retailing arm, Energy Online Ltd (EOL), to Genesis Energy when it became apparent that EOL would in future become locked out of wholesale electricity contracts, effectively preventing it from acquiring new customers.

In the first six months to June this year NGL traded back into the black with the first reported profit since acquiring The New Zealand Salmon Co Ltd in October 1999 and launching on the NZSE. It was also the first profit for NZ Salmon since 1995.

Referring at the time to EOL’s imminent sell-off, Mr Bracknell said that the “real excitement” for the group lay in the combined strengths of ISP subsidiary Iprolink Ltd and specialist utility billing and CRM subsidiary Newcall Technology Ltd.

“Together,” he said, “they are placing NGL in a tremendously advantageous position to provide significant services and systems to the country’s emerging broadband networks, particularly those in the rural areas.”

Shortly after, in October, Mr Bracknell announced that NGL had entered into heads of agreement to acquire UCC (2001) Ltd (UCC) and C Squared Technology Group Ltd (C2).

Formerly United Consortium Computers Ltd, UCC, under managing director Leicester Chatfield, has consistently achieved sales of $14M pa and is anticipating a 13 per cent annual increase in sales in the current financial year.

While UCC’s acquisition by NGL is still subject to Newcall shareholders’ approval, UCC and Iprolink are making a determined bid for a portion of the government’s PROBE broadband initiative aimed at stimulating economic development in New Zealand’s rural communities. (UCC, together with Iprolink and Newcall, is shortlisted to provide PROBE broadband services in the Northland and Wairarapa regions.)

Under Mr Bracknell’s leadership, the intention is for a new Newcall subsidiary, Newcall Wireless Communications Ltd, to become a significant provider in New Zealand of wireless broadband technology, not only to rural communities but also to universities and schools (through UCC’s specialized network) and businesses throughout the country’s major urban and regional centres.

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