Kenya's Safaricom Appoints Bob Collymore as CEO, Replacing Michael Joseph

Safaricom Ltd., Kenya’s biggest mobile-phone company, has named Bob Collymore to replace Michael Joseph as chief executive officer from Nov. 1.

Collymore, 52, was chief officer for corporate affairs at Johannesburg-based Vodacom Group Ltd. before his new appointment, Safaricom said in an e-mailed statement from the capital, Nairobi, today.

Joseph, who has been chief executive officer of Safaricom since it began operations in 2000, said in an April interview that the 2008 initial public offering prospectus gave him the option to retire at the end of 2009. Joseph would only leave the company “when a successor is in place,” he said.

“We started with five people and we built this company to what it is today. I can’t just walk away from this company, which I consider to be my baby, with no successor in place,” Joseph said.

He was directly contracted by Vodafone Plc, which owns 40 percent of the Kenyan company. Before joining Vodafone, Joseph worked for telecommunications companies in Hungary, Spain, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Korea, United States, Australia and the Middle East, Safaricom said on its website. Vodacom is controlled by Vodafone.

An American citizen with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Cape Town, Joseph has specialized in license acquisition, construction of new networks, turnaround management and start-up of new operations during his career that spans over 40 years, Safaricom said.

Most Valuable

Kenya’s biggest company by market value, Safaricom started as a department of Kenya Posts & Telecommunications Corp., a state-owned monopoly that was later transformed into Telkom Kenya Ltd., Safaricom said.

The mobile-phone department was set up in 1993 based on an analogue network that was upgraded to GSM technology in 1996.

Safaricom was incorporated in April 1997, awarded its operating license in 1999 and began commercial operations in October 2000, Safaricom said.

Safaricom competes with Telkom Kenya Ltd. a unit of France Telecom SA, India’s Bharti Airtel and Essar Telecom Kenya Ltd, a unit of Essar Group of India.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net

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