Burns takes over as CEO of Veon as well as chairman

13 December 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Mobile operator Veon has appointed former Xerox leader Ursula Burns as CEO as well as chairman.

Burns became chair of the group in July 2017 and executive chairman in March 2018 when Jean-Yves Charlier quit as CEO. Now the group has abandoned its search for an incoming CEO and given Burns the extra task. She has overseen a simplification of the management structure

Veon director Julian Horn-Smith said: “The board has been impressed with Ursula’s performance and leadership of the company. The management team are clearly working well together and focused on delivering against strategic priorities.”

Burns trained as a mechanical engineer at universities in New York and spent most of her career in Xerox, rising to be CEO from 2009 to 2016 and chairman of the board from 2010 to 2017.

Amsterdam-based Veon, formerly VimpelCom, has operations in Russia, Ukraine, Algeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It owned a 50% stake in Italian operator Wind Tre until July 2018, when it sold its half to the other shareholder, CK Hutchison.  

Horn-Smith said: “Ursula has led Veon through a major transaction in the sale of its Italy joint venture for $2.9 billion and overseen a period of solid quarterly operational performance. We are confident that with her as chairman and CEO there will be further improvements across the business.”

Burns added: “The company operates in a diverse group of markets, with growing populations and rapidly increasing smartphone ownership. This clearly presents a host of growth opportunities for Veon as we seek to build on the positive momentum that we are seeing across the business.”

Burns is also a director of the boards of Exxon Mobil, Nestlé and Uber. President Barack Obama appointed her to help lead the White House national programme on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and she served as chair of the President’s Export Council.

Charlier is now a non-executive director of Digicel