MTN brings in CEO earlier, denies Nigerian wrongdoing. New MTN chief Rob Shuter will take the helm early, as the group looks to exit a turbulent period.
Shuter, a high-ranking Vodafone executive, was hired in June, but with a long lead time to taking the top spot by 1 July 2017. He will now join as group president and CEO on 13 March 2017, an improvement for the group over the previous arrangement.
More Nigerian woes
The group may have settled its massive regulatory fine in Nigeria, but now faces another allegation of wrongdoing in the country. It faces a parliamentary investigation into whether it unlawfully repatriated $14 billion in funds between 2006 and 2016.
The company said MTN Nigeria and its bankers are cooperating with the investigation. In the interim, the country’s central bank has instructed the banks to suspend any remittance of dividends until further notice.
MTN Nigeria said it is committed to a payment of the NGN 330 billion ($1.08 billion) fine related to the late disconnection of improperly registered SIMs, and as a result has not declared a dividend since April 2015. MTN Nigeria has no intention to make any dividend payments over the next six months, it added.
“MTN Nigeria continues to refute the allegations that MTN Nigeria had improperly repatriated funds from Nigeria. Consequently MTN Nigeria will strongly defend any action that would be prejudicial to its interests,” said a statement.
Iranian funds released
The company also said in its quarterly update that repatriation of funds from MTN Irancell to MTN Group has commenced. The group, which holds a 49 per cent stake in the Iranian operator, has previously said easing of Iranian sanctions would enable it to receive about $1 billion in accumulated dividends and a loan repayment from its Iranian unit. It expects the repatriation to conclude over the next six months.
In another piece of positive news, the group said its South African unit delivered a “pleasing” quarter-on-quarter improvement in both revenue and margin. There was a “marginal” decline in subscriber numbers over the same period, although this was attributed to churn of lower revenue-generating prepaid users.
And MTN Nigeria almost stopped the rot in terms of year-on-year revenue decline. After falls of 6.2 per cent and 3.3 per cent in Q1 and Q2, respectively, the unit’s decline was only 1.2 per cent. The company said it was confident of positive YoY revenue metrics in Q4.