May 23, 2019 / 10:33 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 2-Kenya's Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore to stay on an extra year

* Collymore to stay until around August 2020

* Safaricom has yet to find a successor

* Group’s share price rose more than 400% under Collymore

* He wants to develop new revenue streams over next 12 months (Adds details, comments on Huawei)

By Duncan Miriri

NAIROBI, May 23 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Safaricom , Bob Collymore, said on Thursday that he will stay in the top job at Kenya’s biggest telecoms operator for an extra year.

Collymore had been set to step down in August after nine years at the helm, during which time Safaricom’s share price has risen by more than 400%.

The appointment of his successor has been delayed as the Kenyan government, which owns 35% of the company, has insisted that a local be picked to succeed him.

Collymore, who took nine months off from October 2017 to return home to Britain for cancer treatment, told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting that he would vacate his job in or just before August 2020.

“I had like nine months off last year and so I think we all just agreed that I owe the company another year,” he told Reuters.

Two company sources said late last month that Collymore had planned to step down in August for health reasons.

Collymore has helped to build Safaricom - which is 35% owned by South Africa’s Vodacom - into East Africa’s most profitable company, thanks to the popular mobile money transfer service M-Pesa and a growing customer base.

During the remaining time on his contract, Collymore said he would focus on helping to develop new revenue streams for the company, including e-commerce and digital services for farmers.

“I’m also focusing on diversifying revenue streams beyond voice, you have seen voice is flat, it is headed to its decline, data (showed) disappointing growth last year from my perspective,” he said.

Britain’s Vodafone has a 5% stake in Safaricom, which controls about 62% of Kenya’s mobile market with more than 30 million subscribers.

Collymore said extending his contract did not amount to postponing the problem of picking a successor who will be acceptable to all shareholders.

“If you were going to kick the can you wouldn’t kick the can for a year. It is more important that we set the company on the right strategic direction,” he said. ($1 = 101.0000 Kenyan shillings) (Editing by Susan Fenton)

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