South Africa’s MTN Group said on Monday its chief executive will resign immediately as the telecoms firm continued talks with the Nigerian government over a $5.2 billion fine.
Non-executive chairman Phuthuma Nhleko was appointed executive chairman for a maximum of six months after Sifiso Dabengwa stepped down, Africa’s biggest mobile phone company said in a statement.
MTN was fined in October by the Nigerian telecoms regulator for failing to cut off users with unregistered SIM cards.
“Due to the most unfortunate prevailing circumstances occurring at MTN Nigeria, I, in the interest of the company and its shareholders, have tendered my resignation with immediate effect,” Dabengwa said in a statement.
MTN said it continued talks with authorities in Nigeria, the company’s biggest market, over the fine.
Dabengwa has been chief executive of MTN since 2011.
Shares in MTN have slid about 17 percent since Oct. 26 to 157 rand by Friday, following news of the charge.
Ratings agencies Moody’s and Fitch lowered MTN’s credit rating outlook to “negative” last month flagging the risk of significant cash outflow and the likely damage to the Nigerian business due to lengthy talks.