The chief executive leading the roll out of BT's £10-billion national 21st century network (21CN) has resigned.

Dr Paul Reynolds presided over the 2004 launch of 21CN, and has been key to its roll out through his job as BT Wholesale chief executive, where he oversees the wholesale business of the UK-based telecommunications and IT group.

Reynolds has also overseen the introduction of broadband throughout the UK and the creation of the independent wholesale business Openreach, created in a voluntary agreement with Ofcom in 2005.

He is to become the chief executive of Telecom New Zealand, effective from late September 2007.

He joined BT in 1983 after completing a doctorate in geology at the University of London and has served on BT's Board of Directors since 2001.

Reynolds will succeed Theresa Gattung, who is leaving tomorrow after 12 years at Telecom New Zealand, the past eight as the company's chief. And Simon Moutter has been appointed as acting chief executive until Reynolds formally takes up his role.

Chairman Wayne Boyd said he and the Telecom board were delighted, after a global recruitment process, to have secured the appointment of Reynolds.

"Globally there are few leaders in the telecommunications industry with Paul's combination of skills, knowledge and experience," Boyd said.

In 2006, the Telecommunications Industry Association of America awarded Reynolds its 'Global Icon' award for his leadership and innovation.

"I'm passionate about the telecommunications industry and its power to transform the way people interact, live, work and play," Reynolds said.

The remuneration package offered to Reynolds is linked to the performance of the Telecom Group so that higher levels of performance attract higher rewards, and is aligned with shareholder outcomes.

There are three components to Reynolds' remuneration package, which will be reviewed annually. There is a base remuneration of NZ$1.75 million (£670,056) per annum, plus an annual performance incentive with a target value of NZ$1.75 million.

The actual short-term incentive awarded will be determined by the Board based on Telecom and chief executive performance against annual performance criteria.

The Annual Performance Incentive award will be delivered 60 percent in cash and 40 percent in restricted shares. There is also a long-term incentive of NZ$1.75 million subject to shareholder approval.

The employment agreement is for an indefinite duration. And no successor to Reynold’s position at BT has been announced.

Additional reporting by Miya Knights