MTN’s ‘risky business’ succeeds

first_imgKhanyi Magubane The forceful thrust of South African cellphone network operator MTN into the global telecommunications arena has not only taken its competitors by surprise, but it has also proved that calculated risks do pay off. Following a slow start since its inception in 1994, MTN took off rapidly in 2002 with remarkable expansion into Africa and the Middle East. Bolstered by a new vision-driven Chief Executive Officer, Phutuma Nhleko, the network operator went into over-drive to not only reposition itself, but to set new trends.Under Nhleko’s direction, MTN has expanded aggressively into markets that are sometimes deemed volatile – but the risk has paid off. Now MTN operates in 21 countries in these two regions: Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Afghanistan, Benin, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Liberia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Iran. The MTN group has operations in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East.Over the past six years the company’s share price has risen more than ten times in value since Nhleko was appointed. MTN is now worth an estimated R250-billion ($US32-billion), making it the sixth-biggest company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and putting it among the 10 largest mobile phone operators in the world.Setting up shop in developing countries has paid off in monetary terms for the company. For the year ending 31 December 2007, the group reported operating earnings of R31,8-billion ($4.08-billion) on revenue of R73, 1-billion ($9.34-billion), an operating margin of close to 45%.Fending off the bigger players Besides obtaining operating licenses in the different global regions, the group is also keen on making acquisitions in countries that it hopes to expand into. Nhleko’s acquisition plans include buying assets in Southeast Asia and Central America. Analysts are predicting that the company will also target Pakistan and India – both countries have low telephone penetration.The network’s main objective at the moment is to continue cementing its position as a global telecommunications player, in a bid to prevent the company from being swallowed up by bigger players. Speaking to Financial Mail, Nhleko said, “We do not have a ‘for sale’ sign up. But, being a publicly listed company, we can’t say if someone approached the company, the shareholders would necessarily be in agreement with management to sell or not to sell. Our job is to manage the company and grow the values until the shareholders tell us differently.” MTN’s success has attracted the attention of other international telecommunication companies in the industry. China Mobile, the world’s largest operator by subscriber number (it has an estimated 400 million users) is believed to be in serious talks with MTN. The talks allegedly started 18 months ago although both parties have been silent on the topic.The UK’s Vodafone, which currently holds 50% of Vodacom (MTN’s biggest competitor in South Africa), is believed to be cajoling the network into allowing it to buy a stake in its operations outside of South Africa. MTN has, however, denied this. As at 31 March 2006, MTN recorded more than 28 million subscribers across its operations, including those of the newly acquired Investcom LLC. In the last quarter of 2006, the network launched commercial operations in Iran, following the successful purchase of a 49% shareholding in Irancell. Growth has been so phenomenal that it is estimated that by the end of this year MTN will have more subscribers in Iran than South Africa.Since operations started in that country 18 months ago, the network operator now has nine million users. South Africa currently has 14,8-million users. With rapid expansion though comes the challenge to continually provide the infrastructure for an efficient service. To this end, MTN intends spending more than R30-billion this year alone on expanding its infrastructure and improving the quality of its coverage.The group has of late come under fire from regulatory bodies, especially in Nigeria, to improve the quality of its services or pay the fines. Nigeria is one of the network’s biggest markets. MTN Nigeria, one of four cell phone networks in the West African country, has been operating since 2001.During the period under review, MTN Nigeria aggressively focused on subscriber growth, supported by rapid network roll out amid keen competition in the market. As a result, the company significantly increased its subscriber base from 5,6 million to 8,4 million currently.In February 2008, in a bid to empower Nigerians, MTN South Africa reduced its stake in MTN Nigeria to 76,08%. Nigerian individuals and key institutions acquired a 9,45% interest in MTN Nigeria from MTN. The company said that it had sold 5,96% in MTN Nigeria as part of a US $594,5-million (R4.632-billion) private placement.The man taking MTN forwardPhutuma Nhleko first became involved with MTN by way of Worldwide Africa’s investment in Johnnic (now Avusa). Nhleko, along with top businessman Wiseman Nkuhlu, founded Worldwide in 1994 as one of the first black empowerment investment companies in South Africa. The company, of which Nhleko still remains a major shareholder, invests in various energy and technology companies across sub-Saharan Africa. Nhleko is described by industry insiders as driven and determined. Colleagues say he contemplates everything deeply and methodically but is not afraid to take risks once he’s weighed all his options and is certain of the move he is about to make. His deal-making skills were honed at Standard Bank, where he worked from 1990 until he started his own company in 1994 but his background is in engineering. He studied engineering at the University of Ohio in the US and also has an MBA from the University of Atlanta. Despite having achieved phenomenal success for MTN, Nhleko is reluctant to renew his contract when it expires in 2010, saying that by then the company will need someone younger and fresher with new ideas to take the company forward.Nhleko is not a one-man island at the company and works closely with a core group of seven:Rob Nisbet – Finance director. Nisbet is highly rated by analysts for the clear way he presents MTN’s financials.Sifiso Dabengwa – Chief Operating Officer. Since joining MTN in 1999, the Zimbabwe born Dabengwa has held a number of high profile posts within the company, including CEO of Nigerian operations.Karel Pieneer – Chief technology and information leader. He has been with the company since 1994 and is responsible for its technology choices.Santie Botha – Executive: Marketing. She joined the company in 2003, she oversees the groups’ multibillion rand marketing budget.Christian De Faria – Vice President: West and Central Africa. He joined the network operator in 2006, has a history of increasing turnover at XL, the largest mobile operator in Indonesia.Tim Lowry – MTN SA managing director and Vice President – South And East Africa. He comes with vast experience in the telecom industry. He has worked for a large number of European operators across the world.Jamal Ramadan – Vice President Middle East and Africa. He joined the company from Investcom and has experience heading up the IT departments of international telecommunication companies.Useful linksThe Empowerment Charter for the ICT SectorMTN South AfricaMTN globalDepartment of CommunicationsDo you have any queries or comments about this article? Email Khanyi Magubane at khanyim@mediaclubsouthafrica.comlast_img read more

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Bloom Carroll FFA’s Smith makes Extemp Speaking top four

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest At the 89th National FFA Convention currently underway in Indianapolis, Evan Smith of the Bloom Carroll FFA Chapter made the top four of extemporaneous public speaking, one of the more unique and challenging of the public speaking events. He finished third in the nation.Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood spoke with Smith about the honor and his preparation for the finals in this video.last_img

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6 Assam communities enforce 2-day shutdown

first_imgA forum of six communities demanding Scheduled Tribe status enforced a 48-hour shutdown affecting normal life in parts of Assam since Monday.The police reported sporadic incidents of violence and disruption of communication in eastern, central and western Assam where the six communities — Moran, Muttock, Tai-Ahom, Kock-Rajbongshi, Chutia and Adivasi (‘tea tribe’) — are in the majority.These communities currently enjoy Other Backwards Class status. The OBCs’ share in Assam’s quota pie is 27%, while the STs (plains), Scheduled Castes and STs (hills) have 10%, 7% and 5% share respectively.Two-decade-old issueThe ST status demand by the six communities has been a major issue for more than two decades now. The Bharatiya Janata Party had promised them tribal status before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.The last meeting between the Centre and the representatives of the six communities was held in April 2017. Leaders of these communities said they are still awaiting a report that was to be submitted by June 2017.The trigger for the two-day shutdown from 5 a.m. on Monday was the alleged snub by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during a meeting with leaders of the six communities in New Delhi on July 20. “The Minister came and went without saying much except that our issue would be resolved soon,” said Aswini Chetia, adviser of All-Assam Tai-Ahom Students’ Union, adding that neither Mr. Singh, nor Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju “seemed interested in knowing about our demands”. The six communities would organise a rally on July 30 demanding the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fulfil the BJP’s commitment to grant them ST status. Other tribes waryThe existing ST communities in Assam are opposed to the move to grant tribal status to the six ethnic groups. The Coordination Committee of the Tribal Organisations of Assam (CCTOA), representing Bodo, Rabha, Tiwa, Karbi, Dimasa, Mising, Sonowal, Hajong, Garo and Deuri tribes, had in 2011 written to the Singla Committee that the proposal to grant ST status to six “advances and populous OBC communities” was “a conspiracy to destroy/exterminate the existing STs of Assam”.The Centre had set up the committee headed by Mahesh Kumar Singla, then Special Secretary (internal security) in the Home Ministry, on March 1, 2011, to look into the demand of the six communities and its fallout.The CCTOA had said that the Registrar General of India had rejected the demand of the six communities eight times between 1981 and 2006. The Centre did grant ST status to the Koch-Rajbongshis for six months in 1996, but it was revoked after it was found that 33 of 42 medical seats and 17 of 21 engineering seats apart from other courses reserved for STs had been taken away by the Koch-Rajbongshis.Tribal-majority State?Social scientists say granting ST status to the six communities would make Assam a tribal majority State and would entitle it to special safeguards that might help in solving complications arising out of alleged illegal influx into the State affecting its demographic balance.If granted reservation, the number of Assembly seats reserved for tribal people is expected to jump from the existing 16 to about 85-90 in the 126-seat House by way of fresh delimitation of constituencies.last_img read more

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No more limit on lending of PBA players to Gilas, says new commissioner

first_imgBrace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC “I told everyone before that we will pitch that proposal to the Board and we weren’t denied,” he shared on Thursday as he addressed the media for the first time as the league’s new chief.“It was the Board who said that whoever player coach Chot Reyes wanted, he can get them as long as there won’t be any schedule of games.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutMarcial made true on his earlier pronouncements of abolishing the two-per-team clause.RELATED: OIC Marcial reaffirms PBA’s commitment to Gilas program Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Read Next Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netThe dream of having an unlimited PBA player cap for Gilas Pilipinas is finally a reality with the appointment of new commissioner Willie Marcial.The congenial executive shared that the Board of Governors has already approved his proposal of taking out the limiting clause between the league and the national team program.ADVERTISEMENT 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Kerber positive after narrow semifinal loss to Halepcenter_img In the previous agreement between the PBA and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) forged in 2016, all 12 teams were required to lend at least one veteran and a member of the cadet pool drafted in the 2016 PBA Rookie Draft to the national team pool.Since the start of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers, only three teams, namely TNT (Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, and Roger Pogoy), NLEX (Kevin Alas, Kiefer Ravena, and Fonzo Gotladera), and Rain or Shine (Gabe Norwood, Raymond Almazan, and Mike Tolomia) have exceeded that cap and willingly allowed their players to don the national tri-colors.That, however, is no longer the case as Marcial and the rest of the Board are giving Reyes the free rein to pick the best possible players for the Philippine team for the upcoming international competitions.“On the PBA’s side, that’s what we’ll do,” said Marcial.ADVERTISEMENT Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa MOST READ NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers LATEST STORIES View commentslast_img read more

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