Safaricom without Bob Collymore

Chief finance officer Sateesh Kamath who has been principally put in charge talks on how the company will run while CEO is away on medical leave for an unspecified period

Safaricom’s chief finance officer (CFO) Sateesh Kamath, the man on whose shoulders the mobile firm now rests, has assured investors and the general public that the absence of CEO Bob Collymoe will not affect the company’s operations and  services.

Speaking on Tuesday 31st October at a conference call with the mobile service company’s investors, and a day after the telco announced Collymore would be taking medical leave for unknown number of months, Mr Kamath said the company had the right systems and people and that operations won’t be disrupted even as the company releases its Half Year 2018 results this week.

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He said Bob Collymore’s sick leave may take a “few months” and there will be no interim CEO over the period. He noted that responsibilities will be distributed among the management board. During Collymore’s leave, the company’s board of directors said Kamath, who is Mr Collymore’s alternate on the board, will take a primary role. Safaricom has not revealed the nature of of Mr Collymore’s illness.

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Kamath will be supported by Joseph Ogutu who is the current director for Strategy and Innovation. Mr Ogutu will be responsible for Safaricom’s day-to-day operations, effectively making him acting CEO, until Mr Collymore’s return from medical leave.

Kamath hinted that they will on Friday 3rd give an update on the progress of the telco’s e-commerce platform ‘Masoko’ and the expansion of M-Pesa payment platform into other African markets.

Mr Collymore is due to step down in 2019, after his contract was extended for two years in May.

The Guyana-born British businessman has overseen a 420% rise in Safaricom’s share price since he took the helm seven years ago, driven largely by the rapid growth of mobile-money platform M-Pesa.

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Safaricom’s market capitalization of more than 1 trillion shillings ($9.6 billion) is more than five times the size of Kenya’s second-largest company, East African Breweries Ltd. Safaricom is 35% owned by Johannesburg-based Vodacom Group Ltd., which bought the stake from U.K. parent Vodafone Group Plc earlier this year. The Kenyan government holds about the same amount.

Safaricom shares fell as much as 1 percent in earlier trade on Tuesday to 25 shillings. The stock has gained 32 percent this year, compared with a 20 percent rise on the Nairobi Securities Exchange All Share Index.

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