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MTN in talks with MultiChoice

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Published May 8, 2017

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Johannesburg - MTN

Group senior executive Stephen Van Coller said his role has been changed to

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head of digital services at Africa’s biggest wireless operator, seven months

after he joined the company as head of strategy.

The former

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investment banking chief at Barclays Africa Group has been asked to examine

ways to boost profit from cellphone data use, he said in an interview at the

World Economic Forum on Africa on Friday. One task is to hold talks with

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Naspers’s unit Multichoice about hosting TV entertainment on smartphones, he

said.

“I don’t just

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want to give you a phone, I want to give you a phone with some services and

products on it,” he said at the event in Durban, South Africa. “Just like in

banking where you almost never go into the bank anymore, I want customers to do

everything from their phone.”

In an email to

employees seen by Bloomberg, MTN CEO Rob Shuter said he had identified digital

services as an area that needs to be improved and had consequently assigned the

role to Van Coller. Chief Operating Officer Jens Schulte-Bockum, who joined

from Vodafone Group in January, will take over the role of strategy chief,

according to the email. Van Coller retains his position in charge of mergers

and acquisitions.

An MTN spokesman

didn’t immediately respond to an email and phone call seeking comment.

Read also:  MTN wants financial deals

The role change

comes as Shuter gets stuck into the task of reviving Johannesburg-based MTN

after a $1 billion fine in Nigeria and sluggish growth led to a first ever

annual loss in 2016. He was hired by Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko alongside Van

Coller, Schulte-Bockum and other senior executives in a management shake-up. On

Wednesday, Shuter used his first quarterly report since his arrival in March to

commit to major investments in MTN’s largest markets of Nigeria, South Africa

and Iran.

Van Coller’s

move “makes sense,” Peter Takaendesa, an analyst at Mergence Investment

Managers, said by on phone from Cape Town: as most of those services will be

similar to financial services, which is where he has the experience and

background in.”

MTN shares fell

1.6 percent to R117.05 rand as of 4:33 p.m. in Johannesburg on Friday, valuing

the company at R220 billion.

BLOOMBERG

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