Qatar telecoms firm Ooredoo announces management shakeup

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Omar Chatriwala

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

After several disappointing financial quarters, Qatar-based telecoms provider Ooredoo has replaced its longtime group chief executive, the company has announced.

Ooredoo, which was previously known as Qtel, also operates in countries including Kuwait, Tunisia, Maldives, Algeria, the Palestinian territories, Myanmar and Oman.

The reorganization comes as the group reported a rise of more than 100 percent in third-quarter net income last month.

However, it posted declining profits in six out of the previous eight quarters due to foreign exchange losses and difficulties in Iraq and Tunisia, Reuters reports.

Nasser Mohammed Marafih, who held the post of group CEO of Ooredoo since 2006, will step down from the role and be replaced by Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani, Ooredoo said.

Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani, Ooredoo Group CEO

Injaz Qatar

Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani, Ooredoo Group CEO

Al Thani has been with Ooredoo (and previously Qtel) since 1990, and held the title of CEO of Ooredoo Qatar since 2011, according to the telecom firm’s website.

Prior to that, he was the telecom firm’s executive director for group human resources and acting executive director for general services.

He has a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from Western International University in Phoenix, Arizona.

Marafih, whose career with then-Qtel spans 23 years, will become a member of Ooredoo’s board of directors as an advisor to the board’s chairman. He will replace Omer Abdulaziz Al-Hamed Al-Marwani, the company statement added.

There has also been a shakeup of other senior management positions.

The roles of CEO of Ooredoo Qatar and deputy group chief executive will be taken by Waleed Mohamed Al-Sayed. Meanwhile, Yousuf Abdulla Al Kubaisi has replaced Al-Sayed as chief operations officer of Ooredoo Qatar.

Ooredoo Chairman Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohammed Bin Saud al Thani paid thanks to Marafih for his “persistence and hard work,” adding: “we look forward to benefit from his service and expertise at the board.”

He continued:

“I also want to wish Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani success in leading the Group at this exciting period which will witness a lot of developments in the telecoms industry.”

Vodafone troubles

Meanwhile, the boss of Qatar’s other telecoms firm Vodafone has spoken out about its recent poor performance, with its ongoing lack of profit and share prices dropping 38 percent since the start of the year.

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East, CEO Kyle Whitehill blamed in part Qatar’s slowing population growth, which he said was eating into revenue.

Kyle Whitehead, CEO Vodafone Qatar

Vodafone Qatar

Kyle Whitehill, CEO Vodafone Qatar

As a result, the break-even point for the firm, which was supposed to be reached this year, has been pushed back at least two more years.

“The market has deflated, falling from 10 per cent growth year-over-year last year to 3 per cent (this year),” Whitehill reportedly said.

Vodafone’s failed attempt to buy state-owned Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN) at the end of last year has not helped its fortunes.

It first announced its intentions to acquire QNBN last October, saying it had entered into a “non-binding agreement” with Information Communication Technology Holdings Q.S.C. (ICTH).

However, just a month later it announced it was pulling out.

The deal was reportedly worth some QR210 (US$57.7) million, based on 21 million shares at a value of QR10 ($2.75) per share.

Whitehill also commented on tumbling global oil prices and declining government revenues. The new economics have reignited discussion on the possibility of introducing some form of VAT or taxation, something Vodafone isn’t currently liable for.

If such taxation came into play, the official described “the big implication” of this as the cost of employees and equipment.

“It’s such a high-cost country that attracting an employee to come work and live here hugely inflates the cost of the employee versus any other country,” Whitehill said.

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