The 5 Worst CEOs in Africa 2012

Cynthia Carroll

VENTURES AFRICA has been covering African companies extensively this year. The magazine’s coverage has been positive where it is necessary and it has also highlighted negative stuff in company results and strategies.

In this article Ventures Africa looks at CEOs whose performance was not up to scratch. The continent’s worst CEOs. Obviously our list is dominated by South African CEOs. This is because South Africa is the continent’s biggest economy and also has the biggest stock exchange which has more than 400 companies listed on it.

Maria Ramos

Ramos is the CEO of South Africa’s biggest retail bank, whose parent company is London-listed Barclays. Absa this year went from being South Africa’s best-performing bank stock to the country’s worst.

The company has seen a shocking exodus of executives, slowing income and lower profit this year under Ramos leadership. Absa, based in Johannesburg, posted the lowest returns on the six-member FTSE/JSE Africa Banks Index (JBNKS) between March 2009, when Ramos was appointed, and the start of the third quarter.

Cynthia Carroll

Carroll is the CEO of mining giant Anglo American. She was the first woman, external hire and non-South African to hold the job. She quit in the fourth quarter of this year after Anglo lost $14 billion in value in the more than five years she was in charge.

Carroll, 55, born in Princeton, New Jersey, is still working at the company until a successor has been appointed. Carroll will also step down as chairman of Anglo American Platinum and De Beers. Carroll made bad decisions, missing opportunities in Africa and invested in poorly performing companies. Her performance has been more about poor decision-making than it was about tough markets.”

Anglo declined to a three-year low in September this year as the CEO, appointed in 2007, struggled with cost overruns at the Minas-Rio iron-ore project in Brazil and a legal battle with Codelco in Chile. Its platinum mines missed targets. The company has slumped 22 percent in London trade during 2012.

Shameel Joosub

Joosub is the CEO of Vodacom, whose parent company is UK’s Vodafone Group. He was appointed in July this year but his performance has not been outstanding. Vodacom has failed to lead its African expansion, only tracking MTN, which has capitalized on Vodacom’s inertia to build a business three times its size.

MTN has built a customer base of 173 million users across 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East since the Johannesburg-based mobile-phone company began in 1994. Vodacom, started that same year, but has 47.8 million subscribers, 60 percent of whom are in South Africa with the rest in Tanzania, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique.

Vodacom trades at 11.7 times future earnings compared with MTN’s 10.9 times earnings estimate.

Ken Campbell

Campbell took his new role as CEO of Tunisia’s leading mobile operator Tunisiana in December 2011. He is no stranger to the company, as he was Commercial Director in 2003 before taking positions at Vodafone Romania, Bite group and Wind Mobile. His expertise in customer experience management was praised by Tunisiana’s owners Qtel.

But his expertise has not emerged 12 months after he took over. Otherwise the owners of the company, the Tunisian government would not be contemplating selling their stake in the company. Each government want to have a company that would act like a cash cow. This is usually a strategic asset for many governments because these assets mint money. He has, it seems, failed to make the company attractive by improving its earnings growth.

Tunisia plans to sell 25 percent of Tunisiana. The share sale aims at maintaining the economic system and preserving jobs in the confiscated company. Tunisiana is majority-owned by National Mobile Telecommunications Co., the Kuwait-based unit of Qatar Telecom QSC.

Amr Badawy

Badawy is the chairman of Telecom Egypt, which would be granted a license by mid-2013 to provide mobile services and will later let mobile companies offer fixed-lined services using Telecom Egypt’s infrastructure.

Landline monopoly Telecom Egypt, 80 percent owned by the state, has been relying on its data business to boost revenue. Where has this guy been all along? Other countries have taken this step more than ten years ago. Africa has been awash with these deals in the recent past. Egypt is among Africa’s biggest and stronger economies. It should have been in the forefront of this.