MTN BEE deal put on hold

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

MTN is postponing its planned R23billion BEE transaction due to "severe constraints in the current financial markets".

The company said yesterday: "In light of the severe constraints in current financial markets, the board has determined that it is presently not in the best interests of the company, its shareholders and the BEE investors to implement the transaction during the first half of the 2009 as originally planned."

It said its board remained fully committed to implementing the BEE transaction.

MTN announced in mid-December last year that the Newshelf investment holding company would be unbundled and a new BEE transaction would be implemented this year.

Newshelf was set up in 2002 to acquire 18,7percent of MTN's shares on behalf of MTN employees and to boost black ownership of the company.

The current unwinding process was destined to pay out R3,2billion to 3200 beneficiaries who were to initially receive the share allocation as a loyalty incentive.

Several MTN employees recently voiced their dissatisfaction with the amount of shares they were to receive from the unbundling. Some of them said they would only receive as little as 30percent of what they were originally promised.

Phuthuma Nhleko, chief executive of MTN Group, stands to receive R300million from the unbundling.