July 24, 2017 / 11:08 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-VEON names former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns as chairwoman

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By Eric Auchard

FRANKFURT, July 24 (Reuters) - VEON named former Xerox chief Ursula Burns as its chairwoman on Monday, as the telecoms operator undertakes corporate governance reforms and a makeover as a global online services company.

Alexey Reznikovich, VEON’s long-serving chairman, will remain on the board as a representative of LetterOne Investment, the company formerly known as VimpelCom said.

Burns and Guy Laurence, a British telecoms veteran who was chief executive of Canadian telecoms firm Rogers until last year were elected to VEON’s new 11-seat board of directors.

VEON has expanded the board to make a majority of directors independent of its two main investors, LetterOne Investment, controlled by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman and his partners, and Norwegian mobile operator Telenor.

Last week VEON said it was making progress in a strategy to reinvent itself as an online player by introducing its messaging and mobile services app in four new markets, including its largest, in Russia and Pakistan.

It first introduced the service, designed to compete with the likes of WhatsApp or Viber, in Italy, where it has a joint venture with CK Hutchison to run the country’s biggest mobile network operator.

LetterOne Investment, which holds a 48 percent stake in VEON, is retaining three seats on VEON’s board, while Norwegian government-controlled mobile operator Telenor holds just under 20 percent of shares and two seats.

Telenor, which has been in open conflict with Fridman for control of VEON, has previously said it plans to sell all its stake that once stood at 33 percent.

Departing chairman Reznikovich, who is managing partner of L1 Technology, an arm of LettterOne Investment, said he plans to leave L1 in September to pursue his own investments but will remain on VEON’s board.

Burns, the first African American woman to service as the chief executive of a Fortune 500 company, was chairman and CEO of Xerox Corp from 2009 until last year, overseeing the company’s digital evolution and its split into two. (Reporting by Eric Auchard; editing by Maria Sheahan and Alexander Smith)

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