MTN Paid Chairman Nhleko $5.6 Million for Nigerian Fine Leadership Role

March 10, 2017.MTN Group CEO Phuthuma Nhleko at the MTN head offices in Fairland in Randburg.Picture:Freddy Mavunda © Financial Mail
  • Former CEO awarded 72.2 million rand in cash and bonuses
  • Compensation related to work to reduce Nigeria fine, hire CEO

MTN Group Ltd. awarded Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko 72.2 million rand ($5.6 million) 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 30 million rand salary and a 38.2 million rand 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 $5.2 billion, of which MTN eventually paid $1 billion. Nhleko also hired new CEO Rob Shuter, who joined from Vodafone Group Plc earlier this month. He’s now back to being non-executive chairman 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 123 million rand the executive earned by selling shares late last year.

MTN shares were little changed at the close in Johannesburg at 123.25 rand, valuing the company at 232 billion rand. The stock is 35 percent below levels before the Nigeria fine was implemented.

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

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