MTN replaces CFO and appoints M&A chief

04 July 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


Troubled African operator MTN has hinted at future acquisitions or disposals by appointing a banker to be vice president of strategy and M&As. At the same time the company has announced that its group CFO will be leaving.

The moves are just the latest in a range of changes following MTN’s embarrassing dispute with the government of Nigeria, which ended with the company agreeing to pay a fine of $1.67 billion, having negotiated it down from $5.2 billion.

The new VP of strategy and M&As is Stephen van Coller, who will join in October, and will work with a deputy head of M&As whose appointment will be announced “shortly”, said MTN.

Van Coller spent 10 years at Deutsche Bank, from 1996 as a managing director of investment banking, an executive committee member and foundation trustee for DB in South Africa. For the last 10 years he has been at Barclays Africa Group where he was most recently CEO of its Corporate and Investment Bank.

The company said: “We are confident that Stephen’s experience will be instrumental in helping the group realise its ambitions and commitments.” But MTN did not say what those ambitions and commitments are in what it called a “rapidly changing sector”.

At the same time group CFO Brett Goschen will leave the company at the end of September – the day before Van Coller starts – “to pursue other interests”.

He has been group CFO since August 2013, but before that was CEO of MTN Nigeria, from April 2011, during the period when the government of Nigeria was insisting that all SIM cards should be registered. It was MTN’s failure to register 5.1 million cards that led to the fine from the regulator.

MTN Rwanda’s CEO Gunter Engling will be acting group CFO until a permanent CFO is appointed, said the company. Engling has been general manager finance of MTN Nigeria and CFO of MTN Ghana.

MTN said that it “is confident that the process of reviewing its capacity, resources, governance and management structures will be substantially completed by year end and will leave the group well positioned to successfully face a highly competitive environment and take advantage of new opportunities”.