JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – MTN Group Ltd, Africa’s largest mobile network by subscribers, said on Wednesday Chief Executive Officer Rob Shuter would step down from his role at the end of a four-year term in March 2021.
The company said its board would find a new CEO during the year to enable a seamless handover.
Shuter, a former head of Vodafone Europe with a background in banking, took over from Sifiso Dabengwa in 2017, who resigned after Nigeria imposed a $1.7 billion penalty on the company for its failure to deactivate unregistered users.
During his tenure, Shuter overhauled the telecom firm’s governance standards and is in the middle of a strategic revamp of MTN to hunt for returns in everything from financial services, music to video games.
The company also said headline earnings per share (HEPS) rose 38.9% to 468 cents for the full-year ended Dec. 31 on the IFRS 16 accounting basis. On a like-for-like IAS 17 accounting basis, HEPS rose 61.7%.
Revenue rose by 9.7%, while service revenue grew by 9.8%.
“The group’s results were supported by double-digit growth in service revenue by both MTN Nigeria and MTN Ghana, while economic pressure, new data usage rules and a reassessment of recognition criteria for roaming revenue from Cell C impacted our performance in South Africa,” Shuter said in a statement.
MTN, which competes with rival Vodacom Group, said it raised 14 billion rand ($876.70 million) from asset sales within the first 12 months of its three-year 15 billion rand divestment plan aimed at simplifying its portfolio.
The company said it currently does not anticipate a material impact on its near-term network rollout plans due to the coronavirus outbreak and was developing contingency plans to mitigate the impact.
Shuter said on a media conference call that due to the outbreak MTN had restricted non-essential travel a few weeks ago to some countries, including Iran, where it has operations.
“We don’t really want people travelling in and out unless there is an absolute emergency,” Shuter said.