On Monday, June 1, 2020, Alan Sinfield became the first substantive Chief Executive Office of 9Mobile, since its name was changed from Etisalat. Sinfield succeeds Stephane Beuvelet, who had been in acting capacity since November 2018 after the reshuffling of the company’s management.
According to his LinkedIn page, Sinfield has worked in a number of telecommunication companies over the last two decades. Between 2006 and 2019, he served as CEO of Starlink in Qatar, CADSCOMM in Cambodia and Ananda Livemore in Myanmar. Alan Sinfield can be considered a hybrid executive, combining experience and expertise from the Telecommunications industry, as well as the banking industry.
His banking career started with a management trainee program at Bank of America, where he rose through the ranks to become a programmer and business Analyst. He later worked in Frankfurt, Germany, before joining Barclays Bank in South Africa as a technical manager. His desire to work in different countries took him to work in various other banks in Portugal, Slovakia, and Hong Kong. At different times, he was also the Chief Executive Officer at Amara Communications Co. (ananda), a 4G LTE mobile broadband operator in Myanmar from 2018 to 2019, as well as the CEO of Cadcomms (qb), in Cambodia from 2010 to 2017.
As a telecommunications expert, Sinfield has held leadership roles in several companies including mobile, fixed-line and broadband data operators, fintech and banking sectors. He has also held management positions in retail, media, and wholesale distribution businesses across emerging markets in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Sinfield has a tough task ahead of him. 9Mobile has suffered a decline since 2016 when it was unable to finance a $1.2 billion loan it borrowed from 13 Nigerian banks. This set off a debt crisis that forced major investors such as Mubadala, the UAE fund, and Etisalat to exit the company in 2017. Originally called Etisalat Nigeria, the telco rebranded as 9Mobile following the exits.
Originally called Etisalat Nigeria, the telco rebranded as 9Mobile following the exits. An utter collapse was prevented when government regulators intervened and instituted a bidding process. 9Mobile was sold in late 2018. During this crisis, 9Mobile’s customer base was in free fall. In September 2015, Nigeria’s fourth major telco had 23.5 million subscribers. By March 2020, its customer base had dropped to 12.1m, losing 11.4 million subscribers within five years.
In February 2020, months after securing a new $230 million loan, 9Mobile said it will invest around $220 million expanding its 4G network. This could shore up its data subscriber base that has plummeted to 7.8 million users. For Sinfield, the struggling telco’s new CEO, the market sentiment about 9Mobile’s quality could play a huge role in any transformation of the company.