MTN has dismissed reports saying that its interim CEO, Phuthuma Nhleko, would be stepping down in May to make way for a new group head.
Last week, Bloomberg reported that Nhleko was preparing to step down from his role as MTN’s acting executive chairman as early as May, and that the group had a short-list of three names to take over.
Two candidates are reportedly from MTN, and one is from outside the company, Bloomberg said, citing a person familiar with the matter.
However, MTN said in a statement on Tuesday that Nhleko’s tenure at the company – which was initially supposed to be six months – has not yet been discussed by the board, and depends on the resolution of two issues.
The first issue is finding the next CEO, and the second is the $3.9 billion fine the group faces in Nigeria.
“On both occasions, (Nhleko) has not indicated that he has reached finality on these matters. The board gave him a mandate to resolve, and he is still working to do just that,” MTN said.
The group said it was continuing to engage with Nigeria over the fine, and would not be drawn into commenting further on its status.
The group said Nhleko will stay on for as long as he needs to.
Speaking at MTN’s annual results presentation in March Nhleko said the search for a new CEO is well underway, with an announcement expected in the second quarter of 2016.
The company head said that finding the right group CEO is critical for MTN’s success, with Nhleko adding that his role was a temporary one as the company faced its “most difficult year in history”.
Nhleko – a former MTN CEO – was elected as executive chairman in a temporary capacity at the group, following the resignation of Sifiso Dabengwa as group CEO in November 2015.
He took up the responsibility to proactively deal with the Nigerian regulators regarding a ₦1.04-trillion (around R71-billion at the time) fine imposed on the company in October 2015 for not disconnecting unregistered SIMs on its network.