MTN Group Ltd. Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko, who returned to lead the African wireless company’s negotiations over a record $3.9 billion fine in Nigeria, is moving forward with plans to step down next month, according to a person familiar with the matter, a sign he’s confident a resolution will be reached by then.
Nhleko won’t return to a non-executive role before he comes to an agreement with the Nigerian Attorney General, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. The chairman took the executive position on a six-month basis in November in order to “proactively deal” with the Nigerian authorities after Chief Executive Officer Sifiso Dabengwa resigned, Nhleko said at the time.
The plan for an on-time departure provides a ray of clarity, however thin, into a murky, months-long crisis that’s gutted the share value of Johannesburg-based MTN by one-third. Getting it solved has been the top priority of Nhleko, who ran MTN as CEO for almost nine years until 2011. The company proposed a $1.5 billion package last month that included 150 billion naira ($754 million) in cash alongside other incentives. The Nigerian government hasn’t formally responded, though some lawmakers have called for even bigger fines. Read more