MTN trundles out the heavy boardroom artillery
Not since the days of the Independent News and Media Group has a board featured so many high-profile names
It’s difficult to recall so many high-profile people on any one board – advisory or just plain old vanilla – since former Irish international rugby player Tony O’ Reilly’s vainglorious days at the Independent News and Media Group (INM). Not that MTN’s international advisory board (IAB) members are likely to play a similar role in MTN’s life as O’Reilly’s IAB did in the life of INM – for a start there’ll be a lot less rugby.
O’Reilly’s IAB members included ex-Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, UK Conservative Party grandee Kenneth Clarke, Labour peer Baroness Jay, former New York mayor David Dinkins, former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney and what no advisory board should be without – James Bond. Well, not actually James Bond but Sean Connery, whom many of us thought was too busy doing lots of other stuff to have time to read newspapers, let alone advise newspaper proprietors.
Given O’Reilly’s ability to schmooze politicians across the globe, most of the local INM employees assumed the IAB was set up to enable the executive chairman to travel the world first class with some mates, and James Bond.
Things are unlikely to be as easy for MTN’s IAB members, led by former president Thabo Mbeki. They include a former president of Ghana, a former African Union Commissioner, a former director general of the International Atomic Agency – who also happened to be deputy president of Egypt for one month in 2013 – and the president of marketing and services at Total.
So, does the IAB move mean MTN is settling into a midlife existence where it will be advised to avoid the sort of high risk-high reward zones that have fueled much of its profit growth to date? Or will its advisers be there to help clean up when the high risk spills over into high fines?