MTN shops for new CEO as British Telecom taps Rob Shuter

Outgoing MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter will head up the enterprise unit of UK telecommunications giant British Telecom (BT) when he steps down from his current role in 2021.

MTN said it expected to announce Shuter’s successor in the next four to eight weeks. He is due to step down in March 2021 and join BT Enterprise as CEO. The process “will allow for a seamless handover to his successor”, the company said in a statement on Friday.

Shuter replaced Sifiso Dabengwa after the latter resigned in 2016 following a $5.2bn dispute with Nigerian authorities that exposed operational flaws in Africa’s biggest mobile operator. He will leave  the company in the midst of executing a turnaround strategy he formulated.

Like CFO Ralph Mupita, Shuter comes from the world of financial services. Since his appointment, the company has focused on growing its fintech business in an attempt to diversify away from voice, with the company now boasting over 40-million on its mobile money platform.

The statement came as the mobile operator said it will report an earnings increase of up to 170% for the six months to June 2020. It expects to report growth in earnings per share (EPS) of between 160% and 170%, or 660c to 686c.

Headline earnings per share (HEPS), a widely used measure that strips out special items, is expected to be between 115% and 125% higher than the 195c seen in the corresponding period in 2019, or 419c to 439c.

MTN said EPS benefited from gains of 341c on the disposal of the American Tower Company (ATC) Uganda and ATC Ghana tower joint ventures in March, while HEPS benefited from non-operational items of about 46c per share, “of which more than half related to foreign exchange gains,” with the rand having weakened more than 17% against the dollar so far in 2020.

A change in accounting policies resulted in MTN registering a 47c gain in EPS from the ATC deals but this had no effect on HEPS.

After initially weakening as much as 6.4% MTN’s shares on the JSE closed 2.46% lower at R59.14, following a 5.75% drop on Thursday, which was its biggest in about seven weeks.  (Text, excluding headline, courtesy BusinessDay South Africa)

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