File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

Non-executive directors added to Cell C board

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Jan 29, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Embattled South African telecoms company, Cell C have announced on Wednesday, the appointment of two independent non-executive directors, Sindi Zilwa and Mark Nelson-Smith, who join the board with immediate effect. 

Zahir Williams, Cell C’s Chief Legal Officer also joins the Board as Company Secretary and adviser to the board on corporate governance and to assist members of the board with their duties and responsibilities as directors.

Cell C said in a statement that these appointments are in line with Cell C’s continued commitment to good governance and demonstrates the board’s focus on diversity and transformation.

Joe Mthimunye, Cell C Board Chairman said, “These appointments are an integral part of Cell C’s journey to improved financial stability, sound business ethics, good governance, better operational performance and sustainability.”

Cell C says that Zilwa is an experienced businesswoman and Chartered Accountant and Chartered Director, CD (SA). Multi-award winning Zilwa was the youngest ‘Business Woman of the Year’ (1998) and a ‘Woman of Professional Integrity’ (2016).  She is a published author of two books The Ace Model – Winning Formula for Audit Committees (2013) and the Board and Committee Effectiveness Model (2016).  Her book has been used by the Institute of Directors to train audit committee members in South Africa.  

She has sat on a number of boards including Listed Companies, Public Sector Companies, NGO’s and across a variety of industries.  Having been previously a Chairman of BUSA Standing Committee on Transformation and a Chair of Social and Ethics Committees at various companies, her experience in this regard will be a vital asset to the Board’s transformation.

Zilwa holds a CA (SA), BCompt Hons (CTA), Advanced Taxation Certificate, Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning,  Advanced Diploma in Banking and is a Chartered Director.

Nelson-Smith is a highly experienced, non-executive director with a proven track record in corporate finance.  He is a seasoned deal maker, focused on business turnaround, value maximisation and monetisation, strategy and governance.  Nelson-Smith brings an ability to build consensus between stakeholders, challenge and support management teams and deliver solutions on complex issues.

He has served as Chairman of Invitel, one of Hungary’s largest cable and telecoms companies following its financial restructuring and as a non-executive director of Primacom, at the time Germany’s fourth largest cable company during its operational and financial turnaround.  He spent 14 years working at UBS Investment Bank, 10 of which in the Telecoms sector.

Nelson-Smith has an MA in Philosophy and Modern Languages from the University of Oxford and a Diploma in Company Direction from the IoD.

Zahir Williams is responsible for Legal, Regulatory and Governance at Cell C.

He is a seasoned senior legal executive with more than 20 years of multi-jurisdictional corporate law experience, working in fast paced, highly competitive and complex international business environments.

Most recently, Williams led the legal and regulatory function for Vodacom Business Africa Group for 25 countries on the African continent as well as the UK.  Prior to this he held key positions at multi-national energy firms BP and TOTAL, leading their Africa Legal and Governance functions.

In these roles, he developed a strategic approach to governance by balancing interest of boards, shareholders and external stakeholders including regulators, funders and consumers.

Williams holds a BA LLB in Law from the University of Cape Town.

The announcement follows after JSE-listed Blue Label Telecoms buckled under the weight of its investment in Cell C, with its shares shedding more than 13percent, after the mobile operator defaulted on the payment of interest on a $184 million (R2.67billion) loan.

Blue Label yesterday flagged that Cell C was also facing a possibility of defaulting on interests and capital payments related to bilateral loan facilities with Nedbank, China Development Bank Corporation, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, due by the end of this month.


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