Telecommunications group MTN has confirmed that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has imposed a fine on its Nigerian subsidiary of a massive US$5,2bn (about R71bn).
The confirmation of an earlier report published by Technology Times in Nigeria, has sent MTN’s share price into a nosedive. Shortly after firming up the quantum of the fine, the share was trading down by more than 10% on the JSE.
“Shareholders are advised that the NCC has imposed a fine equivalent to $5,2bn on MTN Nigeria. This fine relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5,1m MTN Nigeria subscribers who were disconnected in August and September 2015 and is based on a fine of 200 000 naira for each unregistered subscriber,” MTN said in a statement issued to shareholders.
“MTN Nigeria is currently in discussions with the NCC to resolve the matter in recognition of the circumstances that prevailed with regard to these subscribers. We will continue to update shareholders in this regard,” it said.
Technology Times reported earlier that Umar Danbatta, the newly appointed head of the NCC, had approved the fine against the South African-headquartered company. This followed MTN’s alleged breach of Sim card registration rules meant to combat crime and terrorism.
Nigeria is MTN’s largest and most profitable market. But the NCC’s fine dwarfs not only profits from MTN’s operations in that market, but from the entire group. Group profit after tax for the 2014 financial year was R37,7bn.
Technology Times said in its report: “MTN Nigeria will pay the landmark fine for allegedly undermining efforts by the Nigerian government to tackle security challenges and the war on terror and allied crimes, as the telecoms operator has allegedly refused to deactivate unregistered mobile phone lines on its network…”
It said, too, that MTN may face further sanctions from other agencies as a result of its alleged breach of the Sim card registration law. It said the matter had been directed to the Nigerian directorate of state security, the army and the presidency. — (c) 2015 NewsCentral Media
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