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Nigeria backtracks on MTN fine, now set at R49bn


The ongoing kerfuffle between MTN, Africa’s largest mobile phone operator, and the Nigerian authorities took another twist on Friday.  In a surprise announcement, MTN informed investors that the Nigerian authorities have adjusted the fine upwards again to $3.9 billion (R56 billion) from $3.4 billion (R48.9 billion).  By Gugu Lourie

On Thursday, MTN announced that the Nigerian government has reduced the fine imposed on its Nigerian operation to $3.4 billion from $5.2 billion.

The fine relates to the late disconnecting of 5.1 million MTN Nigerian subscribers in August and September 2015.

The South African-based mobile phone operator said it has received a formal letter dated 2 December 2015 from the NCC informing them to pay $3.4 billion by 31 December 2015.

But later on Thursday, MTN received another surprise letter from the Nigerian authorities.

“Late on 3 December 2015, the day after receipt of the First Letter, the company received a further letter from the NCC dated 3 December 2015 (the Second Letter). The Second Letter, which was stated to supersede the First Letter, informed the company that the fine had actually been reduced by 25% to 780 Billion Naira and not by 35% to 674 Billion Naira, as was stated in the First Letter. The payment date remained 31 December 2015,” the mobile phone operator informed investors.

“Neither the First Letter nor the Second Letter sets out any details on how the reduction wasDetermined,” MTN said, adding that it is carefully considering both the First Letter and the Second Letter, and the Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko will immediately and urgently re-engage with the Nigerian Authorities before responding formally.

The commotion in Nigeria has resulted in MTN losing its group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa and the CEO of the Nigerian operation, Michael Ikpoki, who resigned yesterday.

The company is also restricting its operations and management team and the company’s market value has been significantly slashed by the commotion in its biggest market of Nigeria.


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