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MTN chairman sells $8.8 million of shares ahead of new CEO’s arrival

MTN Group Ltd. Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko

MTN Group Ltd. Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko sold shares worth about 123 million rand ($8.8 million) as he prepares to hand over the day-to-day running of Africa’s biggest wireless company to incoming Chief Executive Officer Rob Shuter.

Nhleko will also benefit from the termination of share options valued at 130 million rand, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement after the market closed on Wednesday.

He will return to his previous role as non-executive chairman when Shuter joins from Vodafone Group Plc on March 17, Bloomberg reported.

MTN said in November 2015 Nhleko would retake the helm after CEO Sifiso Dabengwa resigned in the wake of a record $5.2 billion fine in Nigeria.

The chairman led negotiations with the country’s authorities, eventually agreeing to pay about $1 billion, and hired Shuter as his successor. As CEO for almost nine years until 2011, he transformed MTN from a small South African wireless carrier into a telecommunications giant with customers in 22 countries.

The chairman sold about 1.08 million shares at 113.86 rand each. He had just over 2 million shares at the end of 2015, according to MTN’s annual report.

MTN shares declined 0.6 percent to 113.20 rand by the close in Johannesburg, extending the year’s decline to 15 percent. That values the company at 217 billion rand.