May 3, 2019 / 9:07 AM / 10 months ago

MTN shakes up board, appoints former S.Africa deputy finmin as next chair

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African telecoms provider MTN Group has appointed former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas as chairman-designate in a board shake-up following a series of regulatory issues that cost it more than $1 billion.

Former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas gestures ahead of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry probing state capture in Johannesburg, South Africa August 24, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

MTN, which has expanded in more than 20 frontier markets including Syria and Afghanistan, has faced a number of disputes in its biggest market Nigeria in recent years over dividend repatriation, tax payments and unregistered SIM cards. It also faces disputes in other markets.

“In recent years MTN Group has experienced challenging regulatory environments and highly competitive trading conditions,” the company said in a statement on Friday.

“The board is of the view that MTN Group has entered a more stable and settled phase, enabling it to now affect an evolution of the board.”

Jonas will take over from Phuthuma Nhleko, who has been at the helm for more than three-years, on Dec. 15, MTN said.

In addition to Jonas, MTN has appointed the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, and Vincent Rague, a Kenyan national who worked for the International Finance Corporation for 24 years, in a number of senior positions.

Nhleko said the new appointees “will bring a depth of skills and regional insights that will continue to enrich the experience of the board.”

MTN shares pared earlier gains to trade 1.64 percent firmer at 1033 GMT.

MTN said it will also set up an international advisory board, chaired by South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki, with the primary propose to counsel, guide and support the group.

The board will comprise former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, former African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs Aisha Abdullahi, President of Marketing & Services at Total Momar Nguer, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohammed ElBaradei and Nhleko.

In December, MTN agreed to make a $53 million payment to resolve a multi-billion dollar dividend repatriation dispute in the West African country after it agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle the dispute over unregistered SIM cards there.

Alan Harper, Jeff Van Rooyen and Koosum Kaylan will step down from MTN’s board on Dec. 15 and Peter Mageza and Dawn Marole on 30 April 2020.

Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; editing by Jason Neely and Kirsten Donovan

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