Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Telenor Management - a view into my crystal ball

I was thinking a bit about the future of the top management in Telenor the other day, and here are what I found. Mind you, I have no (absolutely no!) access to information that is private or confidential about these matters. Everything I say is based on a combination of open sources and wild guesses. Caveat reader. With these preliminaries out of the way, let's look at some cherry-picked facts listed in no particular order.
  • Jan Edvard Thygesen jumps ship from Telenor to Vimpelcom. Thygesen has been one of the most influential directors in Telenor during the last almost twenty years. He has been instrumental in particular with respect to the eastern european investments. As such, it is natural that he now joins Vimpelcom, one of the companies Telenor has had a considerable investment in. However, it also indicates another thing: He believes he has better opportunities in Vimpelcom than in Telenor.
  • The previous CEO of Telenor, Thormod Hermansen was CEO from 1991 to 2002. That is 11 years.
  • Before Hermansen Kjell Holler was CEO from 1980 to 1991, 11 years.
  • This year the current CEO, Jon Fredrik Baksås has been CEO for ten years. If history is any guide, he will step down next year. Nothing has been announced yet but that just makes it more interesting when we are playing the game: "Who's the next CEO of Telenor?"
  • Actually there is an obvious candidate: Kristin Skogen Lund. Let me name the ways in which she is qualified: She's bright. She's an MBA (INSEAD) , she already works within Telenor (the Digital Services division, formerly chief of the Nordic division). Also she's the president of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise which in practice means she's got considerable political clout, something which is mandatory for any Telenor CEO, since it's a government owned company. Finally, she's a she. Of course it's not obvious that she'll be elected, but it wouldn't be at all surprising if she is.

So what do i see in my crystal ball? I see a CEO change sometime next year. I see Kristin Skogen Lund being the next CEO, and I see a significant portion of the current top management team coming the same conclusion as Thygesen; that their remaining years are better spent elsewhere than in Telenor. As a consequence of this there will be a considerable influx of new people in Telenor's top management. Some will be internal, and some will be external, and I couldn't possibly comment on who I think any of these people will be :-)