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MTN Nigeria MTN pays $251M towards settling $3.9B fine

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) imposed a fine of $5.2 billion on MTN last year but was reduced by 25% following weeks of lobbying.

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African cellphone giant, MTN group, paid $251 million (50 billion naira) to the Nigerian government as fine for missing a deadline to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards.

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) imposed a fine of $5.2 billion on MTN last year but was reduced by 25% following weeks of lobbying.

The payment was made “on the basis that this will be applied toward a settlement, where one is eventually, hopefully arrived at,” MTN said in a statement Wednesday. The Johannesburg-based company also agreed to withdraw the matter from the High Court in Lagos as part of efforts to reach a settlement.

“This is a most encouraging development,” MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer Ferdi Moolman told Bloomberg. “It demonstrates a willingness and sincerity by both parties to work together toward a positive outcome.”

MTN's shares plunged by 19% last week Friday after a profit warning on Thursday.

MTN shares play

MTN shares

(Bloomberg)

 

The company said its profit for 2015 fell by 20% due to poor performance in Nigeria.

Nigeria accounts for about 38% of MTN's revenue.

But MTN said the profit warning did not include the penalty.

“There remains some uncertainty as to the final amount of the Nigerian fine, should an out of court settlement be reached,” the company said

MTN added that Phuthuma Nhleko, its executive chairman, is leading negotiations with the government.

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