Ralph Mupita. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Ralph Mupita. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

Africa’s largest mobile group, MTN, has appointed group CFO Ralph Mupita as group president and CEO with effect from September 1.

Mupita has been MTN’s group CFO since April 17, and is a former CEO of Old Mutual Emerging Markets.

Mupita is likely to build on the steps taken by current boss Rob Shuter to break the company free from the perception that it has a limited growth outlook.

Under Shuter, MTN has been in pursuit of new revenue streams in financial services, music streaming and mobile gaming to counter the falling margins in basic telecoms services such as phone calls and internet connectivity, but Shuter has also presided over a drop of more than 45% in the share price, reflecting the company’s exposure to risky but lucrative frontier markets such as Nigeria and Iran.

Market players have said MTN’s new head would have to focus on growing MTN rather than being preoccupied with putting out fires.

Shuter helped MTN close one of its messiest chapters in history when the company agreed to pay more than $1bn (R17bn) to settle a $5.2bn dispute with Nigerian authorities and another $53m to end a row over dividend repatriation in the West African country, but his successor will also come face to face with the risks inherent in emerging markets.

MTN faces a lawsuit brought by families of US troops killed or wounded by the Taliban in Afghanistan, accusing the company, with others, of funnelling money to the Taliban to launch insurgent attacks on the US soldiers in exchange for protection of its assets and staff.

Mupita has an engineering degree from the University of Cape Town, as well an MBA.

MTN group chair Mcebisi Jonas said: “Ralph’s experience as the group CFO, strong knowledge of our businesses and markets, as well as successful background in financial services, M&A and emerging markets, place him in an excellent position to lead the growth and sustainability of the business going forward.”

In morning trade on Wednesday MTN’s share was up 1.44% to R67.46, having fallen by more than a third over the past 12 months.

With Karl Gernetzky

Update: August 19 2020

This article has been updated with additional information

gavazam@businesslive.co.za; gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za

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