TPG to keep iiNet's call centre staff, but other roles are under review

iiNet has spent less than a month under new owners TPG, but there are signs of change beyond the nixing of Fetch TV. As high profile execs depart, TPG says call centre staff will stay but other roles are under review.

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Claire Reilly
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Internet service provider TPG says it will not cut customer-facing staff at its call centres following its acquisition of Perth-based ISP iiNet last month. However, bigger changes at the company are already being felt with TPG's chief confirming the departure of three high-profile executives from the iiNet team, with more roles under review.

After months of negotiations and back and forth on buyout price, as well as an offer from the owners of rival ISP Dodo, TPG's acquisition was approved last month. But while the deal has pushed TPG up to become Australia's second-largest ISP, there have been doubts about a decline in customer service for a TPG-owned iiNet.

Australia's competition watchdog warned in June that the acquisition of iiNet "may lead to a substantial lessening of competition, potentially resulting in higher prices and/or degradation of...customer service." The ACCC also cited iiNet customers who had raised similar concerns about dropping customer service levels.

TPG has now moved to reassure customers that service standards won't slip at iiNet, now that it's under new ownership. Speaking to The Australian, TPG's notoriously reclusive CEO David Teoh said front-line call centre staff would remain at the company.

"We are not changing the call centres. We must make sure the capability is there, the customer service is there, it is what makes iiNet valuable," Mr Teoh told The Australian after the company's results announcements yesterday. "We are trying to make sure we maintain the same level of customer service so there won't be much change."

However, the company chief did confirm that three high-ranking executives from the iiNet side of the business had left the company once the buyout was finalised. These include iiNet CEO David Buckingham, chief business officer Greg Bader and chief operating officer, Maryna Fewster.

It's a significant departure for Buckingham who had led the company for just over a year after joining iiNet in 2008. Speaking about the original TPG offer in May, Buckingham said he had "personally responded" to customers that had raised concerns about the TPG deal, but that it was "business as usual" for iiNet.

Whether it stays business as usual for remaining staff at iiNet remains to be seen. The company has already nixed parts of iiNet's business offering, including its delivery of the Fetch TV catch-up service, and Teoh indicated that there could be more staff and services on the chopping block.

"In all companies there are good parts and some parts that are not so good and need improvement," Teoh said to The Australian. "We are trying to find the good parts and the good people that we can keep. But there are other areas that need to be refined. It's a continual process."

Teoh confirmed that the company was currently looking at a number of roles and "reviewing" them.

If yesterday's financial results are anything to go by, TPG's trim approach to business is a winning formula for the ISP. The company reported a 31 percent year-on-year increase in revenue for the 2015 financial year, led by decent earnings in its consumer business and a strong year in its corporate division.

TPG has been contacted for comment.