George Cope has a plan to fix Ma Bell
If it were my $52 billion I’d want George Cope at the helm of BCE, too. Unfortunately, Mr. Cope has quickly figured out that if he’s to fix Bell Canada during the first 100 days of his tenure as CEO, he’d better get me involved. All of us, frankly.
And so, with our August bill, comes the news about the role that my family is going to play in his master plan. Call Display, Call Answer and Ident-A-Call. Three simple technological tools that have become necessary around our home.
The Call Display is needed as Mr. Cope has a secret equity stake in some offshore tele-marketing firm that always calls when we are feeding the kids dinner. The Call Answer is a long-forgotten service that might as well be built into the basic monthly subscription. If you’ve ever seen a Sienfeld episode, you know just how difficult those tape recorder-style answering machines are to manage. And that’s if you’re single.
The Ident-A-Call plan is for the fax machine; I need it from time to time for work, and then there is the other offshore company that sends me unsolicited faxes about Cheap Mortgages and Tony Robbins’ latest stadium tour.
The first two services have been boosted $1.95 per month, and the third a mere $0.95. Talk about free gross margin. A $4.85/month bump to our bill; which represents a 10% increase to the cost of our “basic” services. Why didn’t Michael Sabia ever think of this when I was a BCE shareholder?
Phase One of Mr. Cope’s Turnaround / Harvest plan involved stopping the dividend prior to the LBO closing. Phase Two saw a ~35% trim to his senior executives. Phase Three is our turn. Phase Four will be the assets sales and real estate spinouts.
All in the space of 270 days. He makes it look easy.