MTN Group Ltd in South Africa is making moves to get the $5.2 billion fine imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reduced by as much as 80 per cent and it is considering borrowing money from banks to help settle the penalty, should its request for fine reduction be accepted.
MTN’s Group spokesman, Chris Maroleng, was quoted saying: “We don’t comment on banking matters, and banking regulators in Nigeria are best placed to provide context on these matters.”
MTN has until November 16, 2015, to pay the penalty, which relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million subscribers and is based on a charge of N200,000 for each unregistered customer.
Should the telecom giant’s request be granted, the fine may be reduced by as much as $4.16 billion, which represents 80 per cent of the fine. That will leave a balance of $1.04 billion.
Meanwhile, the NCC has confirmed that it had received an apology letter from MTN, asking for leniency over the fine. NCC said it was not in doubt whether MTN would pay the fine, since it has to do with the law, which MTN was part of the signatories.
NCC however said that having received the apology letter, it would proceed to discuss it with the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, where a decision on the matter would be taken.
In a related development, the South African lawmakers are planning to summon MTN Group Ltd. officials to explain why MTN Nigeria was fined $5.2 billion by the NCC for failing to disconnect customers with unregistered SIM cards.
The panel also intends summoning the South African industry regulator to determine whether MTN is compliant with local rules, with hearings likely to take place next year according to reports.
However, MTN shares gained as much as 4.1 per cent and traded 3.5 per cent higher at 160.89 rand yesterday in Johannesburg. The stock is down 27 per cent this year, valuing the company at 297 billion rand ($21.5 billion).