JOHANNESBURG – The MTN Group has moved swiftly to quash reports that, among its biggest shareholders, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is influencing changes in its board, including the ousting of executive chairperson Phuthuma Nhleko.
In a statement on Wednesday, the mobile voice and data provider said the PIC, which holds a 26 percent stake in MTN, had on the contrary pushed for the delayed departure of Nhleko to allow for a longer hand-over period to chairperson designate Mcebisi Jonas, a former deputy minister of finance.
“MTN regularly engages with its shareholders where we have robust, constructive, open and transparent discussions about the business. A key part of that engagement is the governance roadshow with investors that, over the last two years, has been held ahead of the AGM. During these roadshows, MTN Group engages with the PIC and other major investors on matters of governance, strategy and financial performance,” the group said.
It said the MTN board’s evolution and the setting up of the international advisory board were communicated to shareholders and broader stakeholders in May this year, with the PIC supportive of the changes.
MTN was reacting to recent reports that the PIC hiked its stake in MTN in late November and used this to call for the replacement of Nhleko, as well as tabling demands for a board restructuring.
The reports are that the PIC was moved to act following a series of disputes in Nigeria, Iran and elsewhere, the biggest being the $5.2 billion (R75.8bn) fine in Nigeria in October 2015, which was eventually settled for less than $1bn after about eight months of negotiations.