How Sipho Maseko Revived Telkom From The Dead

During Sipho Maseko’s 9 years tenure as Telkom CEO, he did a marvelous job of turning the nearly fallen telecom giant from a dinosaur ran corporation to a company of the 21st century, while overtaking Cell C as the 3rd largest mobile network in South Africa.

Back in April 2013, when Sipho was appointed after being poached from Vodacom, there was an aura of doubt amongst the public that he’d turn around the sinking ship as the previous 5 CEOs were ousted in 7 years…..

……fast forward 9 years later, Maseko has proven that unlike those 5 mediocre CEOs, he’ll be leaving Telkom ready to box in the big leagues.

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Now the 100 thousand trillion rand question, “how did Maseko manage to do the impossible and turn Telkom into a contender to be reckoned with??”…..

Well its not an ABC answer, Maseko deployed a couple of strategies to tackle some of the major problems Telkom were facing at that time and also found new innovative ways to become challenger in the mobile market.

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When he joined, these 5 problems were visible:

  1. Margins were squeezed
  2. The company was hugely overstaffed
  3. It was uncompetitive
  4. It was lumbered with legacy technology
  5. Having sold its 50% in Vodacom a few years earlier, it was struggling for relevance in mobile

And with the government being the majority shareholder, interference by politicians at a senior management level made the problems even worse.

Many of the controversial decisions made by the non executive chairman of that time, sent the company’s share price plummeting at a record low of just under R10.

Telkom was a total mess and had that continued for another few years, it would have went the route of many of the country’s bankrupt SOEs.

According to Maseko, this massive success Telkom experienced was only possible because of his partnership with his chairperson, the late Jabu Mabuza, a clever entrepreneur who knew how to play his way around politics.

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  1. Under Maseko’s stewardship, Telkom got many strategic achievements, especially in the execution of its broadband led strategy, which are now reflecting in the company’s healthy position.
  2. He evolved the company from a traditional fixed business to a portfolio of businesses, which includes wholesale, IT, infrastructure, mobile and masts & towers.
  3. Telkom’s mobile business grew to become the 3rd in SA during Maseko’s tenure, with over 15 million customers, which thus generated a R20 billion in revenue.
  4. Maseko also oversaw the company’s migration from ADSL to fibre. More homes are now connected with fibre than with copper.
  5. Two years after he joined Telkom, the share price increased to R80 from a low of under R10, a 400% increase.
  6. He increased Telkom’s operating revenue from R32 billion when he joined to R43 billion in 2021.
  7. He acquired BCX in 2015, an ICT listed group which boasted R6.512 billion in yearly profits.
  8. In his first full year heading Telkom, profits jumped to a whopping R3.9 billion, from a previous year loss.

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Maseko will be leaving the company around mid-2022 but unlike his predecessors, he’ll be leaving with an amazing record of having brought consistent profits and billions of dividends to the government.



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