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Kingston Communications Group Plc has a new chief executive officer, and hopes the new appointment will bring some measure of stability back to the UK regional telecommunications company after a turbulent year. The Kingston-upon-Hull-based firm has appointed Steven Maine, a former British Telecommunications Plc consultant, to replace the previous CEO William Aylward, who resigned unexpectedly last July. Aylward oversaw a restructuring of the company into eight divisions earlier this year, axing 300 jobs, some 20% of the workforce. He also launched Kingston – which started out as the commercial telecommunications offshoot of Hull City Council, and still runs the 170,000 customer Hull phone system – into a worldwide operation, through its telecoms software arm Kingston-CSL, which develops and markets customer care and billing software. But just after he put the changes into effect, Aylward resigned on the 7 July, immediately after a board meeting. On the same day the UK telecoms watchdog Oftel announced plans to probe the company over alleged license irregularities. The allegations centered around cross subsidization of Kingston’s loss making business telecoms unit from the profitable local telephone unit, which was alleged to have disguised the profitability of the local operation, and to have been anti- competitive. Kingston asserts that the Oftel enquiry – which is ongoing – is only being performed as a formality, and that the enquiry was spawned by a slighted local businessman. Aylward was chief executive for only eight months, having been called into the company to oversee the 26m pound acquisition of the rest of Torch Telecommunications Ltd, Kingston’s broadband networking joint venture with Yorkshire Electricity (CI No 3,017). Kingston also has a new chief financial officer, Ross Cope from Bell Cablemedia Plc, replacing Owen Finn who resigned last March. Kingston, which reported 7.04m pound profits in 1996 and revenues of 91.7m pounds, is now 93 years old, and is the UK’s sole remaining municipally-owned telecommunications company.

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