Smile Telecoms, a pan-African telecommunications group with operations in Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, and the DRC, announced after its board meeting held on January 15, 2021, significant changes in the leadership of the Group’s board and management.
The Group announced the retirement of Ms. Irene Charnley and Mr. Mohammed Wajih Sharbatly from the Group’s Board and all boards of the operating companies, effective January 1, 2021.
Irene Charnley, the Founder of Smile, has retired as Deputy Chairman from the Smile Telecoms Limited Board.
Mr. Mohammad Wajih Sharbatly is a co-Founder of Smile and has acted as Co-Chairman of the Group through December 2020.
Commenting on the announcement, Mr. Ibrahim H. Sharbatly, Chairman of the Group said: “Today we say farewell to our Founder and Deputy Chairman, Ms. Irene Charnley. We wish her all success in her new endeavors.”
“We also want to say farewell to our Co-Founder and Co-Chairman Mr. Mohammad Wajih H. Sharbatly.”
“May God bless them both.”
Smile Telecom Holdings, in its Board meeting on January 15, 2021, also announced the following Nominations:
- Osman Sultan has been appointed as Vice Chairman of the Group. Sultan, the founding CEO of EITC (du) in the UAE, was at its helm from 2006 until the end of 2019. Before that, he was the founding CEO of Mobinil in Egypt (now Orange Egypt) from 1998 until the end of 2005. Mr. Sultan has been actively involved with Smile as the Chairman of the Restructuring and Transformation Committee of the Group since July 2020.
- Albert Momdjian has been appointed as Board Member of the Group and Chairman of the Group’s Audit Committee. Momdjian is a former corporate and investment banker with 27 years of corporate Investment banking and restructuring experience primarily in Media and Telecoms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, having been involved in over $100 billion worth of M&A, capital markets and restructuring transactions.
- Caroline Chang, recently appointed as a Board Member of the Group in November 2020, has been appointed as a member of the Group’s Audit Committee. Mrs. Chang is an experienced board member and former EMEA General Counsel of Farallon, the US hedge fund that has been active in Africa and Emerging Markets.
- These nominations come in addition to the appointment of Mr. Raihan Shaikh-Khaleel as Board Member of the Group in September 2020. Mr Khaleel is a Partner at Swinton Capital and an experienced restructuring advisor across EMEA, sitting on various Boards of companies involved in restructurings. He has 20 years of EMEA and other cross border experience, spending the last 10 years restructuring companies for a leading US hedge fund.
“While we understand the desire of our Founders to retire after a challenging journey, we have been preparing over the past months for the future. We want to ensure that we bring the best competencies on board to enable the Group to face the various challenges and transformations that the Telecoms sector faces and take advantage of the opportunities ahead. Africa is the fastest-growing continent globally, and data is the new future in the world we live in,” concluded Ibrahim Sharbatly.
Commenting on the changes Ahmad Farroukh, Group CEO, added: “I am looking forward to working with the new Board Members and counting on their diverse experience to prepare for the company’s future in the challenging times the industry is going through.”
Finally, Smile announced that the Group Board approved the Head Office and Centre of Main Interest (COMI) of Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd to shift from Mauritius to England and Wales.
Founded in 2007, with its head office in England, Smile Telecoms is a pan-African telecommunications group with operations in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, the DRC, and South Africa. The company has one of the largest sub-1 GHz 4G LTE commercial networks in Africa, operating in the “future proof’ low band, 800 MHz band, and mid-band.
Smile was the first to launch VoLTE on its network and continued its innovation, introducing SmileVoice, a free mobile app. SmileVoice enables customers with any Android or Apple iPhone device (including those which are not VoLTE-enabled) to make SuperClear voice calls over Smile’s 4G LTE network. Smile was also the first to introduce an Unlimited offering, which enables SuperFast data and SuperClear voice, all on one bundle.