Hans-Holger Albrecht (pictured), the president and CEO of Millicom, a Luxemburg-headquartered telecoms group with mobile operations in Africa and Latin America, is to stand down from his position at the end of the year.
The company’s board of directors will now embark on a search for a replacement with a committee including chairman Cristina Stenbeck and two company directors formed for the task.
Tim Pennington, the company’s CFO, is to be interim CEO and will work closely with members of the board to ensure key strategic initiatives and priorities for 2015 continue to be executed.
Albrecht became CEO on 1 November 2012 and worked to transform Millicom from purely a telecoms company to one offering a broader range of ‘digital lifestyle’ services for customers of its Tigo brand in Latin America and Africa.
The operator group — which has more than 50 million subscribers across 14 countries — aims to generate $9 billion in sales by 2017, driven by growth in digital services, such as mobile data, broadband, pay-TV and mobile banking. It generated revenue of $5.16 billion in 2013.
Its Q2 results in July showed impressive revenue growth from its mobile financial services, for which it had racked up 7.4 million subscribers, or 18 per cent of its customer base where the services are available.
It claimed a world first in September by launching Tigo Wekeza (Tigo Invests) in Tanzania, a mobile money service offering users the opportunity to automatically earn a return on their balance direct to their wallet without the need for a separate registration.
Albrecht said in September that the company’s growth and transformation was “well on track” with 23 per cent of customers using mobile data services, compared with 17 per cent a year earlier.
In a sign that it wants to broaden its services still further, Millicom also unveiled Tigo Music, which offers unlimited music streaming with access to a library of more than 30 million songs, as part of prepaid data plans. The service is to be rolled out across Millicom’s African operations, starting in Ghana during the current quarter.
In addition, it launched Africa Music Rights, a new venture with online music licensing platform Africori, to fund, acquire and manage music rights.
Cristina Stenbeck commented that Albrecht had “successfully created and executed a first-class business strategy which has produced a combination of growth and innovation”. She also listed the acquisition of Colombian cable and fixed line operator UNE as one of Albrecht’s achievements.
Explaining his departure, Albrecht said he felt it was the right time for him to develop “a number of entrepreneurial projects and return to the media sector”, where there are a number of “exciting new trends”.
He said he would assist Stenbeck and Pennington during the transition of leadership and work as a senior adviser to the chairman as new businesses are built and services launched.