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MTN sees $5.2bn Nigerian fine reduced by a third

By on December 3, 2015

Nigeria has cut a fine imposed on MTN Group by more than a third to $3.4 billion and given the South African mobile phone operator until the end of the year to pay it, the company said on Thursday.

Nigeria wants mobile phone companies to verify the identity of their customers.

The government says it is concerned unregistered Sim cards are being used by criminal gangs.

The fine, originally $5.2 billion, prompted MTN to hold talks with the NCC over the past five weeks seeking a reduction.

“After further engagements with the Nigerian authorities, the NCC has reduced the imposed fine,” MTN said in statement.

Since it was imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), MTN has made a number of senior managerial changes, which included the resignation of the chief executive of its Nigerian unit, Sifiso Dabengwa.

The company, which makes about 37 percent of its sales from Nigeria, said it was considering the NCC’s decision.

“Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko will immediately and urgently re-engage with the Nigerian authorities before responding formally,” it said.

The fine came months after Muhammadu Buhari swept to power in Africa’s biggest oil producer, after a campaign in which he promised tougher regulation and a fight against corruption.

It also came after the kidnapping on Sept. 21 of Olu Falae, former Nigerian finance minister, by people whom the regulator said had used MTN phone lines to negotiate a ransom.

MTN has 231 million subscribers in 22 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. However, Nigeria is its biggest market.

In September, the company was named as most admired brand in Africa in the Brand Africa 100 awards while it was also awarded the continent’s most valuable brand, worth $4.6bn (£3bn).

It began its expansion across Africa four years later with operations in Rwanda, Uganda and Swaziland.

About Armand Djoualeu

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