MTN faced a barrage of questions from shareholders over a payout to Phuthuma Nhleko when he was executive chairman, the group’s transformation plans and its risk and compliance systems.

Nhleko, who took over from former CEO Sifiso Dabengwa in November 2015, was paid a total of R68.19m, including a bonus of R38.1m. He returned to his role as nonexecutive chairman in March to make way for new group CEO Rob Shuter.

Alan Harper, chairman of MTN’s board remuneration and human resources committee, defended Nhleko’s compensation saying the money was linked to, among other things, the strict targets he had to meet and the fact he had to relinquish other commitments outside MTN to focus on the group. He said when Dabengwa left Nhleko was the "best person" at that time to carry the business forward and resolve a number of issues.

Nhleko was tasked with, among other things, the settlement and reduction of the massive fine MTN received in Nigeria, reviewing operation and governance structures, including hiring new executives, and repatriating funds from Iran.

Shareholders also questioned MTN’s risk and compliance programme in the wake of a $8.5m fine by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority for noncompliance.

Nhleko assured them that while the regulatory environment in many countries was challenging, the group was working hard to strengthen its regulatory risk and compliance. It was also adding more board members to its risk committee.

MTN operates in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

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