From dip to record profits: Bob Collymore’s Safaricom legacy by numbers

Bob Collymore did not have the best of starts when he took over as Safaricom Chief Executive Officer and many wondered whether Michael Joseph’s exit was a mistake.

But by the time of his death, Collymore had turned all critics into cheerleaders and even skeptics had to respect the magic of Bob.

The seemingly false start at the helm has however in the inter-mediating period by what has been a year-on-year growth by Kenya’s largest telco operator to end in the first special dividend payout in the year ending March 31st 2019.

In 2011, Safaricom recorded a 13.1 percent dip in net profit to Ksh.13.2 billion in what was reported as as a result of increased operating expenses and increased impairment losses.

In spite of the rare dip in earnings by Safaricom, Collymore who had only taken office officially in November 2010, took pride in the firm’s innovation backing the diversification trend to steer the company back to the profit making line.

“M-Pesa continues to show significant growth with registered customers increasing by 46% to almost 14 million. The investment in data services, principally 3G, fibre and Wimax, saw the number of mobile data customers increase by over 85 percent to 4.90 million,” Collymore told investors.

Shareholder payout that year had further taken a hit having stagnated from the previous year at Ksh.8 billion.

Fast forward to nearly a decade on, and the the dip was mere blimp on Collymore and Safaricom’s radar – having overseen year on year growth to end in Safaricom’s first special dividend payout valued at Ksh.24.8 billion.

This came on the back of a record breaking Ksh.63.4 billion net profit and an accompanying improved basic dividend payout to shareholders totaling Ksh.50 billion.

Bob Collymore however was gracious in the record setting run, describing the success as pain-staking rather than automatic, under increasingly weighty expectations.

“Getting there isn’t nearly as difficult as staying in it. First, you have to capture the right kind of affection and then you have to persuade the subject of affection that they made the right decision. This becomes the difficult part as once the person accepts your advances; you then have to constantly find ways to keep them interested. I would say this is where we are as a company at this moment,” Bob Collymore said during his last investor briefing on May 3, 2019.

It remains to be seen where the tide of his succession turns as the battle to succeed him begins.

Pressure will lie with the new appointee who will have the unenviable role of equaling or eclipsing his/her predecessor, the corporate titan that was Bob Collymore.

Collymore succumbed to cancer early Monday his Nairobi home at the age of 61 after a long battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

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