Former Cell C CEO Jeffrey Hedberg is finally free to take up the reins at Telkom’s deeply troubled Nigerian operation, Multi-Links. This is after his employment contract with Cell C parent Oger Telecom ended at the end of last month.
Telkom announced it had appointed Hedberg in July but quickly ran into problems when Oger indicated it would prevent Hedberg from taking up the Multi-Links post until his contract was up.
Telkom group CEO Reuben September hailed Hedberg’s appointment as a coup when he announced it. “I am elated to bring Hedberg on board, especially considering his distinguished record of turning companies around,” September said in a statement at the time.
Hedberg has been widely credited with turning around the operational fortunes at Cell C, SA’s smallest mobile operator. He left Cell C at the beginning of the year amid talk of disagreements with Oger over strategy.
September says the last remaining hurdle to getting Hedberg installed at Multi-Links is securing a residence permit from the Nigerian authorities. “This is just days away,” he says.
Hedberg is going to have a big challenge on his hands when he gets to the West African nation. Multi-Links is haemorrhaging, posting an operating loss of 6,9bn naira in the six months to September 2009. Telkom took a R2,1bn impairment charge in the reporting period related to the acquisition of the company.
“Multi-Links continues to pose a major challenge to the group, particularly in the mobile voice environment,” September says. “The Nigerian economy has deteriorated and we had to reduce our sales forecasts on a number of occasions.” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral