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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

GP boss steps down: Departure won't hurt IPO plan, company officials say


Grameenphone CEO Anders Jensen


Anders Jensen, chief executive officer of Grameenphone, resigned from the company on Monday.
Grameenphone in a press statement to The Daily Star said, “Anders Jensen has recently decided to shorten his tenure as the CEO of Grameenphone primarily due to family reasons.”
Meanwhile, the company officials have made an assurance that Jensen's departure will not hurt the IPO issue.
Grameenphone has finalised its plan to raise $300 million (Tk 2,058 crore) -- $ 150 million from the stock market and the rest through private placement or pre-IPO.
The company's IPO proposal is now under consideration of Securities and Exchange Commission.
In October 2007, Jensen replaced Erik Aas when the company had enjoyed tremendous growth. But later the Jensen days in Garmeen were marred by different unlawful incidents such as VoIP business conducted by his previous management.
The Grameenphone board appointed the Swedish national to head the largest mobile phone operator for three years until October 2010. But Jensen decided to leave his position by December 2008.
At an internal meeting with his colleagues Monday, Jensen disclosed that he would step down. The company officials however denied elaborating why Jensen's ended his chapter here.
Company insiders said Jensen's replacement by locals is likely for the first time.
Meanwhile, on the speculation over his replacement, the company officials said the decision is yet to be made. They, however, admitted that some locals are in race.
The locals might get priority this time as the deal between Grameen Telecom and Telenor said "Grameenphone will have to recruit majority mangers from Bangladesh in order to have a majority managers from Bangladesh after six years of company's incorporation."
However Jensen's decision came at a time when the shareholders of the company Grameen Telecom and Norway's Telenor are battling each other over owning majority stake of the company.
Besides family reasons, Jensen's cost cutting strategy, shareholder's conflict and illegal VoIP scam have become challenges for him from the beginning to run the $3.2 billion Grameenphone.
On October 9, just 8 days after his stepping into the company as its CEO, Jensen had to face the first blow from the telecom regulator's Tk168.4crore fine for Grameen's illegal international call termination practiced by his predecessor.

The telecom regulator filed a case against 10 former and in-service high officials including two former CEOs of the company, accusing their involvement in illegal VoIP at a local police station on January 16.
The January 16 case is a follow-up of an eight-day RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) raid starting from December 6, 2007 on the GP head office at Gulshan. The raid found huge equipment of illegal VoIP.
Meantime, in June 2008, Grameenphone fell in another trouble for its job cut strategy. Around 500 contractual employees lost their jobs..
Grameenphone became Telenor's most profitable venture by the end of June 2006. Throughout the year 2006, it made an operating profit of 1.836 billion kroner on sales of 4.314 billion kroner.
But the recent half yearly financial report to June 2008 showed that its operating profit dropped 57 percent.
Grameenphone is a joint venture owned 62 per cent by Telenor and 38 per cent by Grameen Telecom Corporation.

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