South African operator Cell C revealed long-standing Vodacom Group executive Jorge Mendes will become its CEO at the start of July, an appointment the company lauded as a positive step towards restoring its position as a key industry player.

In a statement, Cell C noted there was a high expectation of its new chief to help grow the business and enhance profitability.

Mendes replaces acting CEO Brett Copans, who took the interim role alongside his responsibilities as chief restructuring officer when former boss Douglas Craigie Stevenson resigned for personal reasons in March.

The incoming chief worked across various Vodacom companies for 23 years, culminating in being chief officer: consumer business unit when parting company with his former employer earlier this year.

Cell C noted the appointment comes at a “pivotal time” with increasing competition in the South African market, adding the executive had a “proven track record of driving growth and profitability in challenging market conditions”.

The operator is the fourth largest in South Africa by GSMA Intelligence connection figures for Q1, with 12.7 million. It ranks behind Vodacom (44.2 million), MTN (35.9 million) and Telkom (18.9 million).

It Cell C completed a debt recapitalisation programme in an attempt to turn around its finances in 2022.