MTN CEO appointment a ‘blow to transformation’ - BMF

Johannesburg - South Africa’s Black Management Forum (BMF) has expressed its disappointment at the appointment of Rob Shuter as MTN’s [JSE:MTN] new chief executive officer.

MTN on Monday announced to shareholders that its board has moved to appoint Shuter as its new group president and CEO.

Shuter, who is currently the CEO of Vodafone Group’s European Cluster, is expected to take MTN’s top job in 2017. Shuter has previously held senior positions at Vodacom, Nedbank and Standard Bank.

MTN’s appointment of Shuter comes after its previous CEO Sifiso Dabengwa quit late last year amid a multi-billion dollar telecoms fine in Nigeria. 

But the BMF - which advocates black leadership among local businesses - has said the hiring of Shuter is “disheartening” as it signals a lack of transformation in corporate South Africa.

“The BMF’s position is informed by the clear reversal of black representation in top JSE listed companies. There is a general unwillingness for transformation at top management level which has resulted in the decline in the number of black South African CEOs” said BMF President Mncane Mthunzi in a statement.

“MTN may put forward reasons it argues to be valid for the appointment of its new CEO, however, the company would undoubtedly agree that it has squandered a good opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to transformation. Prior to this appointment, MTN had demonstrated exemplary leadership by successively having black CEOs,” Mthunzi added.

BMF, in its statement, further questioned why the MTN board of directors - with a “majority of black people and under black chairmanship” - would choose Shuter as CEO.

The BMF further said the “the lack of thoughtfulness in dealing with matters of succession in these companies is appalling.”

“The BMF will also engage with the Public Investment Company (PIC) and other shareholders of reference on their expected role and moral obligation for the appointment of black CEOs and Executives in general. These companies are owned by the public and yet they don’t reflect the demographics of our society”, Mthunzi said.

The PIC is MTN's biggest shareholder with a 13% stake in the mobile network.

MTN spokespeople could not be reached for comment on the BMF’s comments on the hiring of Shuter.

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