MTN Group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa has lost his job over the $5.2 billion fine slammed on the company by Nigeria’s Communications commission.
Dabengwa will leave MTN with immediate effect, MTN said in a statement (see full statement below) to shareholders early on Monday morning.
His exit — which MTN is describing as a resignation — comes amid the record-setting US$5,2bn fine imposed by a Nigerian regulator after the group’s Nigerian operation allegedly failed to disconnect 5,1m unregistered Sim cards.
“The engagement with the Nigerian authorities on the Nigerian Communications Commission fine is continuing and shareholders will be advised as soon as there are any material developments on this matter,” MTN said on Monday.
Former MTN Group CEO and current nonexecutive chairman Phuthuma Nhleko will take the reins as executive chairman on an interim basis until a replacement to Dabengwa has been found.
Born in Zimbabwe, Dabengwa has been group CEO of MTN since March 2011, when he took the leadership role from Nhleko. He first joined MTN in 2004 as CEO of MTN Nigeria. He is a former executive director of Eskom.
MTN has issued a statement on the exit of its CEO. Read below:
MTN wishes to inform the market that MTN’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sifiso Dabengwa has resigned.
“Due to the most unfortunate prevailing circumstances occurring at MTN Nigeria, I, in the interest of the Company and its shareholders, have tendered my resignation with immediate effect,” stated Sifiso Dabengwa.
Nhleko, the current Non-executive Chairman has agreed to act as Executive Chairman for a maximum period of 6 months while the Company identifies a successor for Mr Dabengwa.
Nhleko is no stranger to the business as he served as Non-executive Director and Chairman of MTN from July 2001 until June 2002 and thereafter as an executive director, Group President and CEO until March 2011. He has subsequently chaired the Group in a Non-executive capacity for the past two and a half years (29 May 2013).
“I will assume responsibility as Executive Chairman for the next 6 months as I proactively deal with the Nigerian regulator and will continue to work with them in addressing the issues around unregistered subscribers as a matter of urgency,” commented Nhleko.
To ensure compliance with King III, Mr Alan van Biljon will continue to serve as the Lead Independent Director on the MTN board of directors (“MTN Board”) whilst Mr Nhleko takes over executive responsibility.
“Together with the MTN Board, my second priority will be to find an appropriate Chief Executive Officer to take MTN forward. I will then revert to my Non-executive Chairman role,” concluded Nhleko.
Stakeholders are reminded that MTN will continue to inform them of any material engagements with the Nigerian authorities via the Stock Exchange News Service of the JSE Limited (SENS).
Shareholders are advised to continue to exercise caution when dealing in the Company’s securities until a further announcement is made.