Vodacom South Africa appoints CEO

Vodacom South Africa has appointed Pieter Uys as CEO. He replaces the company's founder, Alan Knott-Craig, who will retire in October after more than 15 years with the company.

"The board has conducted a thorough search encompassing internal and external candidates, as we were determined to find the right candidate for the job," said Vodacom Group Chairman Oyama Mabandla. "Pieter was an obvious choice. His years of experience and track record of success at Vodacom speaks volumes, and his appointment ensures continuity and a smooth hand-over."

Uys joined Vodacom in 1993 as a founding member of Vodacom's engineering management team and most recently served as chief operating officer. He has played major roles in the launches of Vodacom's GSM network, Vodacom Internet Company and Vodacom Business Division.

The new CEO named foreign expansion and growth of services as his main goals, but expansion to other African countries will prove challenging, given disagreement among Vodacom's parent companies: Telkom South Africa and the U.K.'s Vodafone.

"We must improve the relationship with our shareholders, who can give us the ability to do more and grow in the continent," said Uys. "There are areas where there is under 10 percent cellular penetration, and we can do better on that front."

Uys' appointment comes at a time of tension between Vodacom and its joint shareholders. Vodafone has forwarded a bid of $234.3 million to buy an additional 12.5 percent stake from Telkom on condition that Telkom relinquishes the remaining 37.5 percent. According to the bid, Telkom can relinquish the stake by distributing the shares to its own shareholders or by listing them on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Vodafone has long been trying to acquire a controlling stake in Vodacom, and Telkom has yet to announce whether it will finally acquiesce to a sale.

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