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Friday, Nov 15th

MTN Nigeria settles fine

MTN Nigeria settles fine.

Mobile operator MTN Nigeria has agreed to pay the Federal Government of Nigeria an amount of N330-billion (US$1.671-billion) in settlement of the outstanding multi-billion dollar fine it received last year.

In October 2015 the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) issued the operator a landmark fine of over US$5.2-billion (approximately N1.04-trillion) as a result of failure to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards on the local network.

This amount was subsequently reduced to US$3.4-billion and then raised to US$3.9-billion.

In February 2016 the operator paid N50-billion as a "good faith payment" and this, the company states, will form part of the monetary component of the settlement – leaving a balance of N280-billion.

MTN Nigeria has now agreed to pay in instalments over a period of six months between 8 July 2016 and 31 May 2019.

In addition to reaffirming its commitment to the country's Code of Corporate Governance for the Telecommunications Industry, as well as license terms and conditions as prescribed by the NCC, it has also undertaken to list its shares on the local Stock Exchange "as soon as commercially and legally possible after the date of execution of the settlement agreement."

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, MTN stated.

In May 2016 MTN Group COO Jyoti Desai told ITWeb Africa that the fine caused colossal damage, along with the subsequent withdrawal of services in that region.

"I think if you look at the quantum of the fine, it's just ginormous by any standard... I don't think anyone in the market can digest the number that has been put forward, so it's bound to do some damage to the share price. When one looks at the fact that many of the subscribers who are not properly registered don't even contribute that much in one year of outpour... a thousand dollars, you know, it does have a significantly damaging effect because we have a wide expanse of customers in Nigeria... we are inclusive in terms of all sectors of the economy," said Desai.

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