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Smile Telecoms’ Irene Charnley bids farewell

By , ITWeb
Africa , Mauritius , 22 Feb 2021

Former trade unionist and businesswoman Irene Charnley has retired from her position as Deputy Chairman on the board of directors of Smile Telecoms.

The Mauritius-based company, with operations in DRC, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, announced several changes to its leadership following a board meeting held on 15 January 2021.

Charnley and Mohammed Wajih Sharbatly have both retired from the company, effective 1 January 2021.

Sharbatly, a co-founder of Smile, served as Co-Chairman of the Group through December 2020.

Charnley made headlines in June 2020 after South Africa’s United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa raised concern over her appointment to the interim board of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).

PIC is a state-owned asset management firm, represented by the Minister of Finance.

Holomisa is reported to have objected on the grounds that Charnley was a former beneficiary of the PIC’s funding initiatives and therefor ineligible to serve on the board.

Techfinancials.co.za published an excerpt from Charnley’s response in a statement: “The PIC’s 7.69% shareholding in Smile Telecoms Holdings, on behalf of GEPF ,is part of its Isibaya Portfolio for Unlisted investments, which was concluded on 3 March 2015, long before I was appointed to the current Interim Board of the PIC. Since the 2016/17 financial year the PIC has published a detailed schedule of all investments in the Isibiya portfolio.”

Ibrahim H. Sharbatly, Chairman of the Group, commented on the latest developments and 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."

The company also announced that Osman Sultan has been appointed as Vice Chairman of the Group.

“Mr. 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 sits on several ICT Companies and Academic Boards. He has been actively involved with Smile as the Chairman of the Restructuring and Transformation Committee of the Group since July 2020,” the company added.

It said that Albert Momdjian has been appointed as Board Member of the Group and Chairman of the Group's Audit Committee.

“Mr. 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 USD 100 bn worth of M&A, capital markets and restructuring transactions,” the company explained.

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.

The company added: “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.

Ibrahim Sharbatly said: "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.”

Ahmad Farroukh, Group CEO.
Ahmad Farroukh, Group CEO.

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."

Smile also 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.

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