Outgoing Vodacom Group chief technology officer Andries Delport will join Remgro’s telecommunications business Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH) as CTO where he will drive the strategy around the group’s big expansion plans in the sector.
That’s according to CIVH chairman Pieter Uys — himself a former group CEO of Vodacom — who spoke exclusively to TechCentral on Tuesday following news that Delport will leave the country’s largest mobile operator in May 2020 (he will serve a six-month notice period) after more than 23 years with the group.
Uys also downplayed a report on Monday that Remgro is looking to sell down its stakes in CIVH subsidiaries Dark Fibre Africa and Vumatel, saying: “Remgro is fully behind the management team. We are not sellers.”
Delport is joining CIVH as it looks beyond the fibre industry into new areas of telecoms, including data centres, tower assets and open-access wireless infrastructure, including 5G, Uys said. Communications regulator Icasa is expected to start licensing 5G-suitable spectrum as early as next year.
“It’s not our interest just to be a fibre player,” Uys said. “We are interested in anything in the wholesale open-access space. This could include data centres, towers and even open-access radio infrastructure.”
One of Delport’s first tasks will be helping Remgro and CIVH understand the opportunities in open-access radio, including 5G. “We are open to anything in that space,” Uys said.
“The opportunity to join CIVH brings with it fresh, new challenges at this stage of my career and at a time when the ICT industry is rapidly evolving,” Delport said. “Competition will increasingly come from non-traditional entities and I am looking forward to using the vast technical and people skills experience that I have garnered at Vodacom with the aim of making a significant difference as part of CIVH.”
News of Delport’s appointment will be followed soon by the appointment of a group CEO for CIVH, which recently hired former Vumatel chief financial officer Kobus Viljoen as its group CFO.
Uys, meanwhile, said Remgro is not considering selling shares in CIVH, Vumatel or Dark Fibre Africa. This is after Bloomberg News reported on Monday that Remgro is considering this.
Selling stakes in the businesses is “not on our radar”, Uys said. However, he said CIVH would be prepared to dilute its shares should it become necessary for black economic empowerment purposes. Its BEE shareholding is already above 30% with investments from Khudu Pitje’s New GX Capital and Joe Madungandaba’s Community Investment Holdings Group.
CIVH management is also engaged in a process to consider the group’s debt and equity position with a view to creating a new capital structure. “The trigger hasn’t been pulled on this,” Uys said. He confirmed that Vumatel and DFA are working to pool their fibre assets to create synergies, and although the networks will be integrated, both brands will continue to exist in the market.
“We believe in this asset (CIVH) and see it making a difference in the country,” he said. “Remgro is fully behind the management team.” — © 2019 NewsCentral Media