Bob Collymore, the chief executive who helped to turn Safaricom Plc (SCOM.NR) into East Africa’s most profitable company with an $11 billion valuation, died yesterday morning after a nearly two-year long battle with cancer.
Collymore, who took the top job with the Kenyan company in 2010, oversaw an increase of nearly 500% in its share value thanks to the popular mobile money transfer service M-Pesa and a growing customer base.
Collymore, who was 61, had agreed in May to serve another year in the role after the Kenyan government, which owns 35% of the company, insisted that a local was picked to succeed him, complicating the hiring process.
The board will meet on Monday to discuss his succession, Chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a said.
“The board was aware that sooner or later we needed to organize succession for Bob,” he told a news conference. “We will be giving a way forward hopefully later in the next 24 hours.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who worked with Collymore on a joint government and private sector initiative to draw up anti-corruption strategies, mourned his passing.
“We’ve lost a distinguished corporate leader whose contribution to our national wellbeing will be missed,” the president said in a statement here
Employees at the company also spoke warmly of Collymore, praising his friendly personality and care for their welfare.
Collymore had traveled to Britain in October 2017 and received treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a cancer of the blood. He had since been undergoing treatment locally, the company said.
“In recent weeks, his condition worsened and he succumbed to the cancer at his home in the early hours of Monday,” the firm said. He is survived by a wife and four children.