MTN has appointed former CEO, Phuthuma Nhleko, as executive chairman in a temporary capacity following the resignation of Sifiso Dabengwa as chief executive of the group.
The company is currently in crisis mode as it faces a multi billion rand fine in its largest operation in Nigeria.
“Due to the most unfortunate prevailing circumstances occurring at MTN Nigeria, I, in the interest of the company and its shareholders, have tendered my resignation with immediate effect,” Dabengwa said in a statement on Monday (11 November).
Nhleko, the current non-executive chairman has agreed to act as executive chairman for a maximum period of six months while the Company identifies a successor for Mr Dabengwa.
Nhleko served as non-executive director and chairman of MTN from July 2001 until June 2002 and thereafter as an executive director, group president and CEO until March 2011.
He has subsequently chaired the group in a non-executive capacity for the past two and a half years (29 May 2013).
“I will assume responsibility as executive chairman for the next six months as I proactively deal with the Nigerian regulator and will continue to work with them in addressing the issues around unregistered subscribers as a matter of urgency,” said Nhleko.
Alan van Biljon will continue to serve as the Lead Independent Director on the MTN board of directors whilst Mr. Nhleko takes over executive responsibility.
“Together with the MTN Board, my second priority will be to find an appropriate Chief Executive Officer to take MTN forward. I will then revert to my Non-executive Chairman role,” Nhleko said.
MTN said it will continue to inform them of any material engagements with the Nigerian authorities via the Stock Exchange News Service of the JSE Limited (SENS).
Last week, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) approved the renewal, and consequent extension of the tenure of MTN’s operating spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands.
The licence renewal comes despite a fine imposed by the NCC on MTN, for an amount of $5.2 billion (R71 billion) at the end of last month.
The fine relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million MTN Nigeria subscribers who were disconnected in August and September 2015 and is based on a fine of N200,000 for each unregistered subscriber.