MTN paid Nhleko R72.2m for 2016 leadership role

2017-03-30 19:23 - Loni Prinsloo, Bloomberg News
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MTN. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Johannesburg - MTN awarded executive chairperson Phuthuma Nhleko R72.2m ($5.6m) in pay and bonuses last year after he negotiated a reduced fine with Nigerian regulators and shook up senior management.

Nhleko, 56, was paid a R30m salary and a R38.2m bonus, Africa’s biggest mobile-phone company said in its annual report published on Thursday. The balance was a fee for simultaneously holding a role as non-executive chairman. Nhleko retook the leadership of the Johannesburg-based company on the short-term basis in November 2015 following the resignation of chief executive officer Sifiso Dabengwa.

“In order to take on this full-time executive role at short notice, Mr. Nhleko was required to commit 100 percent to the MTN task and step away for 16 months from all his considerable other various commercial interests,” the wireless operator said. “The board negotiated an appropriate monthly fee and performance-related cash bonus contract with him.”

The compensation was agreed with the businessman after he was hired to take over from Dabengwa, who took responsibility for the fine in Nigeria, MTN’s biggest market. The penalty was levied for missing a government deadline to disconnect subscribers who were found to be unregistered in the country, which is battling an Islamist insurgency. The fine was originally set at $5.2bn, of which MTN eventually paid $1bn. Nhleko also hired new CEO Rob Shuter, who joined from Vodafone Group earlier this month. He’s now back to being non-executive chairperson and will quit altogether next year.

Shuter has been handed a four-year contract, according to the annual report, which didn’t specify the CEO’s salary.

Other achievements

Nhleko’s achievements at MTN also included repatriating funds from Iran, reviewing corporate governance standards and implementing a new program designed to benefit those discriminated against during apartheid, the company said. The pay deal comes on top of R123m the executive earned by selling shares late last year.

MTN shares were little changed at the close in Johannesburg at R123.25, valuing the company at R232bn. The stock is 35% below levels before the Nigeria fine was implemented.

Outside MTN, Nhleko is the co-founder of black empowerment investment company Phembani Group, which i s bidding for coal mines owned by Anglo American.

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