MTN speaks out about R71-billion Nigerian fine

MTN has issued a statement addressing media reports and speculation around a $5.2 billion fine it is facing in Nigeria.

Shareholders and analysts have derided the operator for a lack of clarity in recent days, following initial media reports out of Nigeria that claimed that the operator had agreed to pay the record fine.

On Monday, MTN called for a halt in the trading of its shares after Nigerian media house, Vanguard, cited unnamed sources saying that MTN had agreed to pay the $5.2 billion fine imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

The fine relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million MTN Nigeria subscribers who were disconnected in August and September 2015 and is based on a fine of N200,000 for each unregistered subscriber.

According to MTN, however, the report is false, and it is continuing to engage “constructively” with the Nigerian authorities at all levels.

“It is false as no resolution has yet been reached. MTN continues to engage the authorities in Nigeria on this matter.”

“All stakeholders are reminded that MTN will inform them of any material developments in our engagements with Nigerian authorities via the Stock Exchange News Service of the JSE Limited (SENS),” it said.

MTN has come under fire for its reporting and communication practices.

Most notably, the company reportedly knew about the fine since August 2015 and only issued an official statement on the matter several hours after news of the matter was broken through Nigerian media.

The group now faces further scrutiny – and potentially more fines – as the JSE investigates the timing of the announcement, and possible insider trading

On Tuesday morning, MTN announced in a market update that the NCC has granted an extension to the mobile network’s operating spectrum in the 900MHz and 1 800MHz frequency bands along with its digital mobile licence to August 31 2021.

Shares in MTN advanced 5%, to R155.54, in trade on Tuesday (3 November), having dropped to a low of R148.18 on Monday (intraday low of R146.53) before being temporarily suspended.

It reached a year high of R246 in April, and an all time best of R260 in September last year.

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MTN speaks out about R71-billion Nigerian fine