Phuthuma Nhleko is the Group Chairman of MTN, a pan-African and Middle Eastern mobile telephony company operating in 21 countries, and served as Group President and Chief Executive Officer of the company from 2002 until March 2011. He is also Chairman of the Pembani Group, a diversified holding company with interests in petroleum, energy, cement and natural resources. Mr. Nhleko also serves as a non-executive director on the boards of BP plc and Anglo plc.
Under Mr. Nhleko, MTN’s subscriber base rose to over 150 million and market cap grew from US$6 billion in 1994 to over US$35billion. It is the fifth largest company on the JSE by market capitalisation and the largest company by market capitalisation listed on the JSE which maintains its primary listing in South Africa.
Some of the milestones in Mr. Nhleko’s career at MTN include the 2003 Nhleko-led management leveraged buy-in to MTN as a result of which MTN’s management acquired about 18% of the group. At US$700 million, the transaction was the largest management buy in of its kind in South Africa’s history. In addition, Mr. Nhleko also successfully concluded in 2006, the acquisition of Investcom Limited for US$5.5 billion from the Mikati family of Lebanon. At the time of the transaction Investcom was a mobile operator with operations in the Middle East and West Africa.
Under Mr. Nhleko’s leadership, MTN and/or its subsidiary companies won numerous awards and distinctions including MTN being in the top 10 companies in the prestigious American Business Week Survey that identified companies that showed vision, growth and are global companies of the future. Mr. Nhleko was voted South Africa’s business leader of the year in 2009 by the CEO’s of South Africa’s Top 100 companies – a vote by his peers in the prestigious South African Business Leader of Year Sunday Times award. Mr. Nhleko`s past directorships include the GSM Association, Johnnic Holdings, Nedbank Group, Bidvest Group, Alexander Forbes and Old Mutual SA.