Telecoms

Alan Knott-Craig retires

Read time 2min 30sec

Cellular icon Alan Knott-Craig will announce on Monday that he is retiring from his position as group CEO of Vodacom, say sources close to Vodacom and Knott-Craig.

Knott-Craig has led Vodacom - SA's first cellular operator - since its inception in 1993. Prior to this, Knott-Craig held several roles within Vodacom co-parent, Telkom. Knott-Craig's standing contract says he will remain in his position until the third quarter of 2009.

However, reliable sources explain Knott-Craig has been feeling the effects of his two heart attacks and is stepping down for health reasons.

"He's tired, he's not feeling well and wants to move on to his other passions like photography," one source says.

Another source reveals Knott-Craig had hoped to have exited Vodacom by now.

"It's no secret that Knott-Craig has been looking for an early exit to his contract. What few know is that he negotiated with the board to leave in February this year. As I understand it, the board then asked him to stay on to September, which he agreed to," he explains.

On Monday, Knott-Craig will present the company's financial results for the year ended 31 March. It is believed that Knott-Craig is choosing to announce his departure at this event, as it will be his last opportunity to address all stakeholders formally.

Succession battle

At this stage it is unknown whether Knott-Craig will announce his successor.

In May, ITWeb sister publication Brainstorm put its bet on COO Pieter Uys as "heir to the throne". This followed interviews with analysts and Vodacom staff.

However, the same magazine noted that an internal candidate could be swept to the side if Vodafone succeeded in gaining a majority shareholding in the local operator.

As Telkom and Vodafone are currently in negotiations, it is possible that no replacement, or an interim CEO, will be announced.

Investor analysts contacted by ITWeb yesterday afternoon revealed rumours of Knott-Craig's pending announcement had not yet reached the investment community.

However, Irnest Kaplan, MD of Kaplan Equity Analysts, said such an announcement would not come as a surprise.

"It's been in the media for a while that Knott-Craig wanted to leave early. The investor community will be sad to see him go, but full of praise for the work he has done at the helm of Vodacom," he commented.

Knott-Craig declined to comment.

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