CEO of Telefónica Europe On Future of Mobile Industry


Matthew Key, CEO of Telefônica Europe, talks exclusively to about the challenges faced across his portfolio, his future plans and the new shape of the mobile industry.

The O2 brand that was born when UK incumbent BT spun out its cellular arm almost eight years ago remains highly visible within its markets of operation. But behind the bubbles the carrier is Telefônica to the marrow, says Matthew Key, chief executive of Telefônica Europe, the stable that comprises the O2 operations in the UK, Germany, Ireland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

O2 has now been part of Telefônica for as long—four years—as it was independent of BT before the Spanish player snapped it up. These last four years seem to have passed quicker than the previous four, a perception that exists internally as well as externally, Key says. Today, he adds, staff at O2 offices across the five markets for which he is responsible, are more likely to talk about being part of Telefônica than they are about having being bought by the firm.

And they certainly are part of something bigger. Telefonica is the fourth largest carrier in the world by proportionate subscriptions, with 181.9 million subscribers across a range of markets in Q309, according to Informa Telecoms & Media’s World Cellular Investors service. The firm’s revenue powerhouse is Latin America, where it has operations in 13 markets, most of which are wholly owned.

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