Saturday, December 15, 2018
Phuthuma Nhleko

Phuthuma Nhleko

Pembani Group

NHLEKO has stepped back from the role of MTN executive chairman to a non-executive chairmanship which may allow him more time to pursue his interests at Phembani and Phembani-Remgro. Having recently realised about R123m from the sale of half his MTN shareholding, Nhleko will have plenty of money to pursue acquisitions. When Phembani merged with Shanduka in 2015 it already had interests in mining companies including Exxaro Resources, BHP Billiton Coal SA (now South32), and Phembani Coal Carolina. Now it has added partnerships in Glencore coal mines, Lace Diamonds, and Lonmin. Phembani is also in a joint venture with Remgro in an investment company, Phembani-Remgro Infrastructure Managers, which has raised funds for infrastructure-related investments in Africa. Nhleko has assembled a huge team at Phembani, which includes mining faces like Don Turvey (former Continental Coal CEO) and Tony Murdoch-Eaton (formerly with Anglo Platinum and Pamodzi). He left MTN as CEO in 2011, but came back as chairman in 2013 and took a more active role when MTN incurred a massive fine from Nigeria’s regulators. Although he was one of the 81 CEOs who pledged support for finance minister Pravin Gordhan in a public statement in October, he generally keeps a low personal profile.


His first job was as a trainee for the Ohio Department of Transportation. He also worked as a senior road engineer for the Ministry of Works in Swaziland and for the Urban Foundation as a project manager before moving into corporate finance and founding Worldwide Africa. He is a civil engineer with an MBA.

“It is important that we do not allow negativity to cloud our judgement.”