Cell C finalised a national roaming agreement with MTN. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – Cash strapped Cell C rang in a new era yesterday as it  appointed Douglas Craigie Stevenson as its new chief executive.

It also finalised a national roaming agreement with MTN that lays the foundation for “a quicker, more efficient and more cost-effective means to roll out future technologies”. 

Stevenson slides behind the wheel as Cell C grapples with challenges that include a high debt burden, liquidity problems, and poor business performance, having lost market share to its rivals.

In July Stevenson penned an open letter about the problems the telco was facing, saying the company would implement a new business plan which would simplify its business model. He said Cell C planned to pursue a recapitalisation drive to optimise the capital structure.

Cell C chairperson Kuben Pillay said yesterday that over the past five months, Stevenson – who was acting chief executive – and his team had led the company to improved financial stability.  

“His permanent appointment was unanimously approved by the board and we are fully behind his efforts to lead Cell C,” said Pillay.

Stevenson joined Cell C in October 2017 as chief operating officer soon after Blue Label Telecoms became a majority shareholder following a R5 billion recapitalisation.

Stevenson took over from Jose Dos Santos who had been the chief executive for six years.

In terms of the roaming agreement, Stevenson said Cell C would be able to manage its network capacity requirements in a more scalable and cost-efficient manner.

He said under the terms of the agreement, Cell C would be able to manage its network capacity requirements in a more scalable and cost-efficient manner.

“This is in line with our commitment to launch a business model that drives efficiency throughout the business,” said Stevenson.

He said he believed that the agreement brought the company closer to  a path towards sustainability.

“Execution will ensure that Cell C remains a sustainable and competitive player with improved network access and quality,” he said. 

The company last November completed the implementation of its roaming agreement with MTN South Africa.

This agreement means that Cell C customers outside the urban centres can now roam on MTN’s 3G and 4G/LTE networks.

Stevenson said the agreement lays the foundation for Cell C for a quicker, more efficient and more cost-effective means to roll out future technologies, while ensuring legacy services like 3G and 2G are suitably rationalised.

“Overall customers are set to benefit as we provide consumers with innovative and reasonably priced products, based on the latest technologies available,” he said said. 

Blue Label’s JSE share price rose 8.6 percent yesterday to close at R4.53.

BUSINESS REPORT