New boss, Phuthuma Nhleko hints at $5.2 billion fine reduction

Nhleko was named executive chairman of MTN for up to six months after former CEO Sifiso Dabengwa resigned with immediate effect on Monday.

Phuthuma Nhleko (L), CEO of MTN group, addresses a news conference in a file photo. REUTERS/Aladin Abdel Naby

The newly appointed of South Africa’s MTN Group, Phuthuma Nhleko, has hinted that he would seek a reduction on the $5.2 billion fine imposed on the company’s Nigerian arm by Nigerian regulator, the NCC.

Nhleko was named executive chairman of MTN for up to six months after former CEO Sifiso Dabengwa resigned with immediate effect on Monday.

According to Reuters, Nhleko says his first priority is Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and MTN’s largest market.

"I can't say whether we'll pay the whole fine. I don't want to negotiate with Nigerian regulators on a public forum," Nhleko, also a former CEO of MTN, said according to the Reuters report.

"Nhleko will bring the matter to a conclusion," said 36One Asset Management analyst Jean-Pierre Verster.

”I expect there will be a discount of somewhere between 5 percent and 75 percent. He sees the Nigerian regulator's renewal of MTN's operating license last week as a sign that the regulator could cut MTN some slack,” he added, according to the Reuters report.

MTN has a deadline date of November 16 to pay the fine imposed on it by the NCC for failing to deactivate over 5 million subscribers with unregistered SIMs.

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