George Cope prepares to take BCE's reins

Fri Jun 20, 2008 5:14pm EDT
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By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO (Reuters) - Only three years after joining BCE Inc (BCE.TO: Quote)(BCE.N: Quote) as the president of its core Bell Canada phone company unit, George Cope is poised to take the helm of the company once its C$34.8 billion ($34.1 billion) buyout closes.

A decision by Canada's Supreme Court, announced on Friday afternoon, thwarted a challenge to the deal and brings it a step closer to completion, though it is by no means assured of closing. But either way, Cope will assume a pivotal role in shaping BCE's direction.

While Cope's tenure at BCE may be relatively short, he is no novice. The man picked to steer Canada's biggest telecom company out of the public limelight and support its first steps as a private company is an industry veteran.

Before he joined Montreal-based Bell Canada in 2005, Cope spent five years as president and CEO of Telus Mobility, the wireless unit of Telus Corp (T.TO: Quote), a huge BCE rival and Canada's No. 2 phone company.

Before that, he led Clearnet Communications for 13 years before the national wireless carrier was bought by Telus in 2000.

Cope, 46, holds an honors degree in business administration from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. He is married with three children.

"He has to hit the ground running," said Carmi Levy, an industry analyst at AR Communications, about Cope's upcoming ascent to BCE's top job. "He has to convince all stakeholders that he's going to turn BCE into a contender in an increasingly tumultuous telecommunications market in Canada."

His appointment, which the company and its private-equity buyers announced last October, was widely expected by investors and analysts.   Continued...