Phuthuma Nhleko, the man who led MTN Group on an acquisition spree that turned the telecommunications operator into an emerging-markets giant, has stepped down from its board of directors.
Nhleko, who has served as MTN’s chairman for several years after relinquishing the CEO role in 2011, resigned this week an non-executive chairman. He has been replaced in the role by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.
It was Nhleko who led the acquisition of Investcom in 2006, for US$5.5-billion, that took it into many new markets in Africa and Middle East and helped it grow its subscriber base to over 200 million customers.
He also helped land MTN a lucrative licence to operate in Iran, a disputed award that resulted in years of litigation by losing bidder Turkcell.
He briefly returned to executive leadership of the group following the exit of former CEO Sifiso Dabengwa to deal with the fallout from a US$5.2-billion regulatory fine in Nigeria related to the failure to register Sim cards in the West African nation, its biggest market.
Nhleko is chairman of the Pembani Group of companies, which he co-founded in 1994, and which has interests in the energy, petroleum, cement and resources industries.
Other directors resign
MTN said that along with Nhleko’s exit from its group board, Alan Harper, Jeff van Rooyen and Koosum Kaylan have also stepped down as directors. Khotso Mokhele has assumed the responsibilities of lead independent director with effect from 15 December.
MTN said in a statement to shareholders that Nhleko “expressed his gratitude to the retiring directors and the board for persisting passionately on a road map (with twists, turns and diversions) that they collectively forged at strategy sessions” and said “there is still a lot to be achieved and celebrated in the future”. — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media