MTN pays $250m of 3.9bn fine


Telecom giant MTN Group has paid $250 million to the Nigerian government in connection with a dispute over a $3.9-billion fine imposed on the mobile phone firm late last year for failing to disconnect unregistered users.

In a statement issued by MTN Group, the firm said: “Shareholders were advised on 22 January 2016 that the above-mentioned matter came up for hearing before the Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria, when the judge adjourned the matter to 18 March 2016 in order to enable the parties to try and settle the matter.

“Pursuant to the ongoing engagement with the Nigerian Authorities, MTN Nigeria has today made an agreed without prejudice good faith payment of 50 billion naira (USD250 million) to the Federal Government of Nigeria on the basis that this will be applied towards a settlement, where one is eventually, hopefully arrived at. In an effort to achieve an amicable settlement, MTN has agreed to withdraw the matter from the Federal High Court in Lagos.

“Phuthuma Nhleko, in his capacity as Executive Chairman of MTN Group and a director of MTN Nigeria, is continuing to lead the team engaging the Nigerian authorities with a view to settling the matter,” the statement said.

The company said shareholders are, therefore, “advised to continue to exercise caution when dealing in the Company’s securities until a further announcement is made”.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, is the MTN group’s largest market, where it had more than 62.8 million subscribers by the second quarter of 2015.

MTN suffered the fine after it missed a deadline to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards.

The country’s telecommunications regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), first imposed a $5.2-billion fine, which was subsequently slashed to $3.9 billion after the firm appealed the fine.


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