Jeffrey Hedberg has resigned as Altech’s chief operating officer less than nine months after joining the JSE-listed technology group, adding to a growing exodus of top management.
Hedberg, a US national who was previously acting group CEO at Telkom, was appointed to Altech last April amid much fanfare from CEO Craig Venter. He was also named as a director of the board and was chairman of Altech Netstar and Altech Radio Holdings.
In a terse statement to shareholders on Thursday, Venter says Hedberg has “decided to pursue his career outside the Altech Group”. “Jeffrey and I had a discussion and he indicated that he wanted to pursue his career opportunities elsewhere,” Venter says.
“During his time with us, Jeffrey brought a great deal of experience into the Altech Group and we are sorry to see him go, but understand his motivation for leaving. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
In a carefully worded statement, Hedberg says: “I came into the Altech Group to work with Craig on his vision to take Altech to the next level. I enjoyed working with the Altech team and believe that Altech’s operations are on the right track to securing their market leadership in the telecommunications, multimedia and IT sectors. I wish them continued success.”
Hedberg’s responsibilities will be managed by Venter and divisional executives until such time as a decision is made on a successor.
Altech has lost a string of top executives in the past 18 months, including former chief operating officer Andy Baker, telecommunications head James Rutherfoord and chief technology officer Ashraff Paruk, with insiders saying many of those who have left clashed with Venter over his apparently abrasive management style.
All Hedberg will tell TechCentral about his resignation is: “I can’t comment.”
At the time of Hedberg’s appointment in April last year, Venter said there would be a “powerful alliance” between the two men. Venter told TechCentral at the time of Hedberg’s appointment that “we will look at taking Altech into a much more global business. We’re going to be highly acquisitive in the next 12 months”.
By the time of publication, Venter had not returned calls from TechCentral seeking comment.
Hedberg, who has more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry, first came to SA in 2006 when he was hired to lead a turnaround at SA’s third mobile operator, Cell C. He later left Cell C before being appointed by Telkom to try to save the telecommunications operator’s troubled Multi-Links subsidiary in Nigeria.
He returned to SA as Telkom’s acting group CEO following the resignation of Reuben September (Telkom’s board said it would not renew September’s contract). Hedberg resigned from Telkom in 2011, with the job ultimately going to Nombulelo Moholi. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral
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