Malik out as VEON CTO

Yogesh Malik has left his role as the chief technology officer (CTO) of VEON, the emerging-markets operator that counts Russia as its biggest market.

While VEON did not officially announce his departure, Malik has updated his LinkedIn profile to indicate he is the "former" CTO of the company. His profile shows he finished in June this year, after a six-year stint as the operator's technology boss.

Neither VEON nor Malik responded when approached by Light Reading for more details of the move or information about Malik's successor in the CTO job. But management upheaval is not out of the ordinary for VEON, which has changed CEO twice since early 2018 amid strategic U-turns and some costly technology decisions.

An earlier attempt to create a single, app-based digital platform for the entire group ended in disappointment, sparking the resignation of Jean-Yves Charlier from the CEO post in March 2018.

VEON had also been the highest-profile customer of Ericsson's Revenue Manager, a range of business support systems (BSS) the Swedish vendor ditched last year due to weak demand.

Shortly after it was scrapped, VEON said it would receive $350 million in compensation from Ericsson and revert to other BSS products from the Swedish vendor.

Its Russian subsidiary was subsequently revealed by Light Reading to have cut Ericsson out of its BSS and opted for a rival IT product developed by Amdocs.

The latest technology upset appeared to come last November when VEON blamed underinvestment in mobile networks for a loss of market share in Russia, where VEON generates nearly half its revenues. A turnaround would take "several quarters," warned Ursula Burns, VEON's then CEO.

In February this year, Burns was succeeded by Sergi Herrero, a former executive at Facebook, and Kaan Terzioğlu, previously in charge of Turkcell, as co-CEOs.

Table 1: Staff turnover at Veon

Executive Job Date of departure
Jean-Yves Charlier CEO Mar-18
Trond Westlie CFO Sep-19
Kjell Morten Johnsen COO Nov-19
Ursula Burns CEO Feb-20
Vasyl Latsanych CEO, Russia Feb-20
Ursula Burns Chair May-20
Yogesh Malik CTO Jun-20
Source: Veon, news wires, Light Reading.

In August, it reported a 16% drop in revenues for the June-ending quarter, to less than $1.9 billion, and saw earnings fall 19%, to $809 million, compared with the same period last year. Figures show it lost 3.9 million mobile customers in the second quarter alone, leaving it with 49.8 million in June.

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Light Reading.

As CTO, Malik would have had ultimate responsibility for many of VEON's decisions about technology strategy, although it is unclear if those had any bearing on his departure.

VEON remains the world's eleventh-biggest mobile operator by customers, with more than 200 million customers internationally, but has had a chequered and turbulent history.

Controlled by Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, it used to be the second-biggest mobile operator in Russia but now trails both leader MTS and MegaFon in its main market.

Malik is a long-serving executive in the telecom industry, according to his LinkedIn profile, and worked for Norway's Telenor Group before he joined VEON.

Between November 2010 and December 2013, he was CEO and chief operating officer (COO) of Telenor India, which Telenor eventually sold to local rival Bharti Airtel in 2017.

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— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading

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