GP CEO to call it quits by year-end
Thursday, 25 September 2008

Staff Correspondent

GrameenPhone CEO Anders Jensen, less than a year into the job, has said he is leaving the company for "personal reasons", according to senior company officials.

A media announcement has not been made yet, but colleagues have been notified that he will be calling it quits by the end of the year, they said Tuesday.
"Anders announced his departure in an email sent to us Monday," one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to brief the media.
Jensen, whose predecessor Erik Aas left GrameenPhone and its majority stakeholder Telenor in the wake of corruption scandals, was to end his three-year tenure in October 2010.
"His son's sickness required him to shuttle frequently between Bangkok and Dhaka. That was really stressful for him," one senior colleague close to the situation said, referring to likely reasons for resignation.
Days after he arrived to run the largest cellphone operator in Bangladesh, his company faced a record-breaking fine for rogue activities blamed on the senior management he had just succeeded.
The Tk 168 crore fine, then largest in local history, prompted him to promise to clean up the company, majority-owned by Norway's Telenor, and punish the perpetrators.
Three months later, in January this year, 10 of the company's top former or current executives, including former CEOs Aas and Ola Ree, were sued by the BTRC for aiding or abetting in the illegal activities.
The BTRC move followed a raid, supported by the elite crime busters RAB, on the GrameenPhone headquarters in capital's Gulshan, resulting in the discovery of large quantities of equipment used for money-spinning but unauthorised calls.
Jensen did sack a few top executives and, according to a senior official, a few were "on their way out".
But much to his helplessness, said the official, a second fine to the tune of Tk 250 crore was slapped by the regulators for facilitating unlicensed Voice over IP calls.
The successive fines strained the US$ 3.2 billion company's profitability, and Jensen sought to ease the pressure through cost-cutting steps that included terminations of several hundred employees.
Telenor's 62 percent ownership and management control came under challenge from Nobel-winning Muhammad Yunus, who with his Grameen Telecom's 38 percent stake said the Norwegian company reneged on a handover deal sealed years ago.
Yunus, in media statements made in Oslo last month, also referred to the two large fines and accused the management of doing business in a way that blemished the Grameen brand.
"But Anders had very little or actually nothing to do with this," said one company insider.
Calls from correspondents to GrameenPhone's official spokesman were neither answered nor returned Tuesday night.
Several officials confirmed that Jensen, a Swedish national, would be leaving Telenor too.

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