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MTN Nigeria fine reduced by two thirds

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African operator group MTN has had the fine imposed on it by the Nigerian government reduced by two thirds after lengthy negotiations.

MTN was initially fined around $5.2 billion late last year for failing to disconnect millions of unregistered SIM cards in Nigeria, some of which had been associated with criminal activity. It was initially given just two weeks to pay the huge fine but, in hindsight, that was just an initial negotiating position.

According to multiple reports MTN Group has now agreed to pay a fine of closer to $1.7 billion, although it’s not clear how it was able to negotiate such a sizable reduction. One bargaining chip could have been the promise to list its subsidiary on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, which MTN immediately vowed to do.

However AFP has reported that the Nigerian government doesn’t necessarily see this as a done deal. “The point should be made that MTN cannot singularly decide on what to pay,” communications ministry spokesman Victor Oluwadamilare told AFP. “As far as Nigeria is concerned, we have to await the outcome of that intervention by the national assembly.”

MTN has issued the following update:

Update to shareholders on Nigerian fine and withdrawal of cautionary announcement

Further to the various announcements to shareholders regarding this matter, MTN is pleased to inform shareholders that the matter has been resolved with the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) on the following terms:

MTN Nigeria has agreed to pay a total cash amount of Naira 330 billion over three years (the equivalent of US$ 1.671 billion at the official exchange rate and US$902 million at the Lagos Parallel Market Rate) to the FGN in full and final settlement of the matter payable as set out hereunder.

The Naira 50 billion paid in good faith and without prejudice by MTN Nigeria on 24 February 2016 forms part of the monetary component of the settlement leaving a balance of Naira 280 billion outstanding which will be discharged as follows:

Naira 30 billion on 8 July 2016

Naira 30 billion on 31 March 2017

Naira 55 billion on 31 March 2018

Naira 55 billion on 31 December 2018

Naira 55 billion on 31 March 2019

Naira 55 billion on 31 May 2019

In addition to the monetary settlement set out above:-

  • MTN Nigeria subscribes to the voluntary observance of the Code of Corporate Governance for the Telecommunications Industry and will ensure compulsory compliance when the said Code is made mandatory for the Telecommunications Industry.
  • MTN Nigeria undertakes to take immediate steps to ensure the listing of its shares  on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as soon as commercially and legally possible after the date of execution of the settlement agreement.
  • MTN Nigeria shall always ensure full compliance with its license terms and conditions as issued by Nigerian Communication Commission (“NCC”).
  • MTN Group Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko said “he expresses his thanks and gratitude to the FGN for the spirit in which the matter was resolved and believes this is the best outcome for the Company, its stakeholders, the FGN and the Nigerian people and that the relationship between MTN, the FGN and the NCC has been restored and strengthened”.

Accordingly, shareholders are advised that they are no longer required to exercise caution when dealing in the Company’s securities.

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One comment

  1. Sebastien Violette 14/06/2016 @ 9:20 am

    This story sadly teaches us how cautious we have to be for SIM cards registration real-time SIM activation, decommissioning and then SIM reactivation. Some solutions do exist; more information here: http://bit.ly/SIMreactivation

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