WOM Chile CEO departs, blasts owners

WOM Chile CEO departs, blasts owners

WOM Chile CEO Chris Bannister has departed from his role after only six months into the job as the board decided against extending his contract, as the outgoing chief executive blasted shareholders for failing to inject cash into the now bankrupt MNO as a key sticking point.

WOM Chile filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy last week as it failed to refinance its debts. The operator is owned by private equity firm Novator Partners. 

Bannister left his post as CEO of WOM Chile for the first time in 2019 after four years in the job, and reassumed the role in October 2023.

In a social media post, Bannister claimed shareholders promised before his second term to “bring in new money” if he came back as head of the MNO, to “reinvigorate the leadership and culture” of WOM. 

WOM Chile hired talent across key areas such as technology, public affairs, internal audit, HR and branding, the former chief executive detailed, as his team “identified bad practices and removed people and contractors involved.”

Bannister added under his leadership WOM had cut out financial inefficiencies and aligned key partners to chase growth in the Chilean market, but financial support from shareholders was a major hurdle that could not be overcome, leading to the operator filing for bankruptcy. 

“Shareholders did not deliver their commitment in funds”, said Bannister, and advised his replacement “don’t let the advisors eat too much at the trough”.

Bannister was replaced as CEO last week by Martin Vaca Narvaja, a former CEO of global distributor Brightstar, and was recently chief of digital customer experience services company Apex America. 

A Novator spokesperson highlighted to Developing Telecoms that the private equity firm was in the process of recruiting a permanent CEO when it hired Bannister on a six-month contract, which was completed with the hiring of Narvaja. 

Novator had invested US$400 million into WOM Chile since 2015, when it acquired Nextel and rebranded the operator. 

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