JOHANNESBURG — MTN Group Ltd has said Rob Shuter will start as chief executive officer in March, as the South African wireless carrier reported data traffic that more than doubled from a year earlier.
Shuter, who was hired from Vodafone Group Plc in June, will join Johannesburg-based MTN on March 17, the company said in a statement yesterday.
The carrier, Africa’s biggest by sales, had previously said he would start on July 1.
Phuthuma Nhleko, who returned to lead the wireless company last year, plans to appoint a new chief financial officer by the end of the year and return to his role as non-executive chairman when Shuter starts.
MTN’s data traffic jumped 142% in the nine months through September, while voice volumes rose 1,8%.
Group subscribers increased 0,9% quarter-on-quarter to about 235 million, including a 2,5% increase in Nigeria, its largest market, and a “marginal” decline in South Africa.
Shuter’s official starting date comes as the company and its bankers face an investigation in Nigeria into allegations that its local unit illegally repatriated $14 billion, which MTN denies.
The shares have slumped 14% to six-year lows since Nigerian politicians raised allegations that the wireless carrier broke the law when repatriating funds from the country over 10 years starting in 2006.
MTN agreed to pay a 330 billion naira ($1 billion) regulatory fine in Africa’s most populous country in July.
“MTN Nigeria continues to refute the allegations that MTN Nigeria had improperly repatriated funds from Nigeria,” the company said.
“MTN Nigeria will strongly defend any action that would be prejudicial to its interest.”
MTN has begun repatriating funds from its Iranian business and expects to conclude the process over the next six months, it said.