MTN agrees to pay USD1.7bn to settle Nigeria fine

13 Jun 2016

MTN Group has announced that it has agreed to pay the federal government of Nigeria a total of NGN330 billion (USD1.7 billion) over three years, in a full and final settlement of the fine it received last year for failing to disconnect around 5.1 million incompletely registered subscribers. The NGN50 billion ‘good faith’ payment made by MTN Nigeria on 24 February 2016 forms part of the monetary component of the settlement, leaving a balance of NGN280 billion outstanding, which will be discharged as follows: NGN30 billion on 8 July 2016, NGN30 billion on 31 March 2017, NGN55 billion on 31 March 2018, NGN55 billion on 31 December 2018, NGN55 billion on 31 March 2019, and finally NGN55 billion on 31 May 2019.

In addition to the fine, South Africa-based MTN Group said it would ‘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’. Bloomberg quotes MTN chairman Phuthuma Nhleko as saying that the local listing will be carried out when market conditions are appropriate and will not result in the parent company losing control of the unit.

MTN Nigeria was initially fined a total of NGN1.04 trillion by the NCC in October 2015, based on a penalty of NGN200,000 for each unregistered subscriber, although this was cut by the regulator to NGN780 billion in December. MTN launched legal action against the fine later that month, before withdrawing its lawsuit in February and paying NGN50 billion to the government, on the basis that this would be applied towards a settlement. In a possible complication to the settlement, however, the House of Representatives has said it was surprised by the deal, as its own investigation into the fine has not yet been concluded.

Nigeria, MTN Group, MTN Nigeria, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)