MTN sweats to repatriate trapped dividends from Iran

Posted by News Express | 26 April 2016 | 3,371 times

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MTN Group was working during the first half of this year towards the remittance of R15bn in dividends and loan funding locked in Iran, the group said in its annual report released on Monday.

In July, Iran reached a landmark agreement on its nuclear projects with six countries, including the US, opening the way for a phased lifting of economic and financial sanctions.

MTN said the agreement had increased the potential for it to repatriate its funds from Iran. The lifting of sanctions offered opportunities to expand services, particularly in the digital space, where MTN had “a strong market position”, said executive chairman Phuthuma Nhleko.

MTN expects to announce a new CEO by the end of June. Sifiso Dabengwa resigned as CEO in November after MTN Nigeria was fined $5.2bn for the late disconnection of 5.1-million improperly registered subscribers. The fine has since been reduced to $3.9bn, and MTN is in talks with the Nigerian authorities about a settlement.

Although Mr Dabengwa took the fall for the penalty, he was still paid R40.6m last year. The payment included a salary of R8m and R23.7m in “compensation for loss of office”.

Mr Nhleko stepped in as executive chairman in November for six months. In the report, he said the process of finding a CEO was well under way, and the company expected to name and appoint a new group CEO by the end of June.

The fine led to considerable operational and management changes. MTN Nigeria CEO Mike Ikpoki resigned, and was paid R26.8m including R17.2m for leave days, lifestyle benefits, and a severance package.

Mr Nhleko said it had been “extremely difficult” and “profound lessons were learned”.

MTN operates in 22 countries, and has 229-million subscribers. It generates 63% of its revenue from SA and Nigeria.

MTN revised its subscriber forecast last week, saying it expected to have gained 11.9-million new subscribers by the end of this year, down from an earlier forecast of 12.5-million, as tough economic and regulatory environments drag on its growth.

•Sourced from BusinessDAY South Africa.

Source: News Express

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