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Diageo Europe Boss Ndegwa Rumoured to be Next Safaricom CEO

GBR Team 09/10/2019

The Kenya Government’s most profitable shareholding, and highest taxpayer Safaricom Ltd, has reportedly ranked Diageo Europe boss Peter Ndegwa as the top candidate to become its next Chief Executive Officer.

The government, a 35 per cent shareholder of Safaricom, had indicated it wished to see a Kenyan replace the late Bob Collymore as CEO of Kenya and East Africa’s most profitable firm.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that Ndegwa, a former Finance Director at Kenya’s largest beer brewer EABL, topped a candidate list that included current chief officers at Safaricom Joseph Ogutu and Sylvia Mulinge who reportedly ranked in that order.

The ranking process is said to have been completed a few weeks ago for consideration by the Safaricom Board of Directors.

Currently, pioneering Safaricom CEO and current board member Michael Joseph is leading the firm on an interim basis. The Kenya Government is reported to have initially asked Joseph to serve in a substantive role for about two years but he reportedly declined saying he would be willing to serve for a six month period.

Ndegwa was appointed Head of Diageo Europe operations in September 2018 making him the first African to assume the role at the multinational brewer.

Prior to that he headed Guinness Nigeria Plc, from 2015 and Guinness Ghana from 2011-2015.

He was Finance Director at EABL before that after joining the company in 2004 as Strategy Director. He previously also worked with Big 4 Audit firm PwC.

If appointed, he would be the third former EABL executive to join Safaricom along with Debra Mallowah the Chief Business Officer, and Paul Kasimu, the Chief Human Resources Officer.

Profit Machine

From market practice, Safaricom’s next CEO is likely to be presented after the company’s November 1 half-year investor briefing with interim chief executive Michael Joseph expected to brief investors on the operations of the company in the period since late CEO Bob Collymore passed on and talk about the transition to the next phase of the giant telco.

Safaricom is East Africa’s most profitable company with full-year income before tax for the period ended March 2019 coming in at US$940million (Shs94billion) on revenue of $2.5bn(Shs250bn).

It reported paying Shs94bn in taxes, duties and license fees to the Government of Kenya.

In May it also paid Sh26.22bn ($260m) to the government as dividends.

With a market capitalization of $11.2bn it is the third largest African telecom by this metric behind Vodacom South Africa, $14.4bn and MTN South Africa $11.4bn.