Veon loses senior execs as chairman plans ‘a leaner HQ’

19 July 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Cover

Multinational mobile operator Veon, still without a CEO after Jean-Yves Charlier left in March, has appointed a group COO and simplified its structure.

All operating companies will now report to Kjell-Morten Johnsen, who was made acting COO on Charlier’s departure but is now confirmed in the role.

Amsterdam-based Veon, formerly VimpelCom, said it is creating “a leaner HQ with clear accountability” and added, perhaps hinting at further changes ahead: “This work is ongoing as Veon transitions to a more efficient operating model.”

Veon, now led by executive chairman Ursula Burns, said that to support its “increased focus on emerging markets with a simplified flatter structure”, all operating companies will report directly to Johnsen, a former Telenor executive who joined Veon in 2016.

The change means Aamir Hafeez Ibrahim has lost his role as head of emerging markets, but will remain as CEO of Jazz in Pakistan.

A few senior executives have decided to leave, including Christopher Schlaeffer, group chief commercial and digital officer, Mark MacGann, group chief corporate and public affairs officer, and Peter Chernyshov, previously head of Eurasia and CEO of Kyivstar in Ukraine.

Veon’s top management have fewer responsibilities because of the planned sale of its 50% interest in Italy’s Wind Tre joint venture. Two weeks ago it agreed to sell its share in the business to Hong Kong-based partner CK Hutchison for $2.87 billion. Italy was Veon’s last asset in western Europe, though Beeline and Kyivstar are significant businesses in Russia and a number of other CIS countries.

Veon is looking for a replacement for Schlaeffer and has added Kyivstar to the responsibilities of Aleksandr Komarov, CEO of Beeline Kazakhstan, though on an interim basis.

However, MacGann will not be replaced. “The position is not being filled and the teams will be integrated into different relevant functions,” said Veon.

Burns, who was CEO of Xerox from 2009 to 2016 and then chairman of Xerox’s board until last year, said in March that Charlier would help with the transition to a new CEO.

Today she made no mention of the continuing search for a CEO but said: “We are creating a new, more simple structure that will help our operating companies deliver the best services to customers and realise even greater value for shareholders.”

She added: “We look forward to providing more details of our progress on our priorities when we report our second quarter earnings in the coming weeks.”