Handover will be seamless, vows outgoing MTN CEO

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Outgoing CEO of MTN, Rob Shuter, who will be vacating his position when his contract expires in 2021, says the early announcement of his departure will allow for seamless succession at the helm of the group.

Speaking on Wednesday at the presentation of the company's annual financial results, Shuter said the next 12 months would be focused on ensuring a "seamless handover", after he steered the company through a period marked by a costly tax dispute in its biggest market, Nigeria.   

"I signed a fixed four-year contract. I am going to be passing the baton at the end of my four years and taking a well-deserved rest," Shuter told journalists.

"The real advantage of announcing that now, is that we've got 12 months to go through the succession process, handover to the new person, make sure that we don't skip a bit operationally."

Shuter joined Africa's largest mobile operator in 2017 from Vodafone, where he headed some of the latter's European operations. He had previously worked as chief financial officer of Vodacom in South Africa.

"It is very important that we have stability and continuity," he said.

As part of changes at executive level, the company said in a statement chief technology and IT officer Charles Molapisi has been appointed to the group executive committee.

The fixed contract of the group chief operations officer, Jens Schulte-Bockum, has been extended until 31 March 2022.

Complex environment

It was announced in January that MTN Nigeria was withdrawing its legal action against the Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Minister of Justice (AGF), in a matter that saw the Nigerian authorities seeking to recover around $2 billion (about R32 billion) in back taxes from the wireless carrier.

Shuter said in January MTN officials met with various Nigerian authorities, including the Attorney General, the governor of the central bank and the country's president.

"We were well received in all those interactions," he said adding that company's role in the Nigerian economy is acknowledged and appreciated. 

Shuter described the Nigerian market, which is MTN's biggest, as a "complex environment" with different regulators - and added that company needs to be "very deliberate" about how it manages those relationships.

In 2015, MTN was slapped with a $3.9-billion fine after it was accused of failing to disconnect 5.1 million subscribers, a loophole which was said to have been used to aid Boko Haram insurgents.

The fine was later reduced to $1.5 billion.

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