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Maanda Manyatshe is suing the Post Office for R269m plus legal fees which could add millions more. He says that's what he would have earned had he kept his job at MTN as head of its SA business.

He quit the MTN job after allegations of impropriety surfaced regarding his tenure as CEO of the Post Office. At the time many felt he was pushed.

But the huge claim says more about the lucrative terms of MTN directors than about Manyatshe or the Post Office. The 15-page summons lodged at the Pretoria high court and in the FM's possession says Manyatshe's "reputation as a leading businessman" in SA has been "irreparably damaged".

"Because of the serious nature of the allegations against [me] and the seniority of [my] position as CEO of MTN SA the defamatory allegations made [my] position… untenable [and I] was compelled to resign," Manyatshe said.

It is intriguing that only R1m of Manyatshe's R269m claim is for "general damages" to his reputation. The rest is for money he says he could have got from MTN. There is a R54m claim for "guaranteed remuneration" until he expected to retire, a R44m claim for "performance bonuses" he would have "reasonably expected" had he stayed until he retired at age 60, in 2017, and R18m for "loss of share options".

But, court papers say, the largest chunk of Manyatshe's claim comes from "loss of entitlement to shares in the MTN Alpine Trust share scheme", which he puts at R151m.

This suggests up to 2 400 MTN directors and managers are becoming staggeringly rich from SA's cellular boom, and provides insight into the upward trajectory of MTN's share price.

The Alpine Trust holds shares in MTN for an entity known as New shelf 664 – and the main beneficiaries are MTN's executives, including CEO Phuthuma Nhleko, Irene Charnley, Rob Nisbet and Santie Botha.

New shelf is a source of great riches, as it holds up to 13% of MTN through 243,5m shares of a tranche it bought from Transnet in 2003 which are now worth R102 each. Though New shelf still owes Transnet debt from the acquisition, it acquired the shares at R13,90 each, which implies that New shelf is in the money by more than R21bn, based on MTN's current share price.

Of course, the funding arrangements expire only in 2009, but all indications are that there will be a significant "surplus" when that date comes around.

Of this "surplus" on the New shelf shares once the debts are paid, Nhleko will get 7,9% and Nisbet and Charnley 5,5% each.



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