Outgoing MTN Group CEO Phuthuma Nhleko is looking forward to what he calls a “much slower pace” when he steps down at the end of this month. But Nhleko, who has led MTN for the past nine years, isn’t disappearing from the business landscape.
Far from it, in fact. He tells TechCentral he plans to step up his focus on Worldwide African Investment Holdings, which has interests in the resources and energy sectors. Worldwide, founded by Nhleko, owns an effective 20% of petroleum company Engen.
Nhleko says Worldwide has been “treading water” in the past 10 years while he has focused his energies on MTN. New investments may be on the cards for the company, but Nhleko emphasises it won’t invest in the telecommunications sector as he has signed a three-year restraint-of-trade agreement with MTN which precludes him from operating in the space.
“I need to go back to the drawing board. It’s early days. I need to wind down at MTN, then really apply my mind to how I can use that platform,” he says.
In addition to the renewed focus on Worldwide, Nhleko has been appointed as a nonexecutive director on the boards of BP and Anglo American, both London-listed companies. He’s also staying on at MTN Group as nonexecutive deputy chairman and nonexecutive chairman of MTN International.
“These appointments are sufficient to take a bit of my time, especially since boards can be a bit involved these days,” he says. “I’m looking forward to a much slower pace and I’m sure I’ll get involved in community service work.”
Nhleko won’t say what community service projects he has in mind, but says he’ll make an announcement at “the appropriate time”. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral