MTN and the Nigerian authorities may reach an out of court settlement over the dispute regarding a proposed $3.9 billion fine over the failure by the mobile phone operator to register subscribers. By Gugu Lourie
The hearings of the dispute were expected before the Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria in the morning, Friday, 22 January 2016.
However, MTN informed investors by midday on Friday that the judge adjourned the matter to 18 March 2016 in order to “enable the parties to try and settle the matter. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement the matter will then proceed on that date”.
MTN’s Nigeria CEO Ferdie Moolman said this week that the $3.9 billion fine imposed on MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission could bankrupt the mobile phone operator as it represents 95% of its annual turnover.
MTN was given a December 31 deadline to pay the fine for its failure to disconnect 5.2 million subscribers who did not register their SIM cards.
The payment deadline has expired.
The South African-based telco has hired seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to fight the R59 illion fine in the Federal High Court in Nigeria. The initial fine was $5.2 billion and was in December reduced to $3.9 billion.
MTN through its lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) is challenging the NCC’s powers to impose the fine. It argued that NCC being a regulator cannot assume all the functions of the state. It is seeking the appropriate reliefs.
The debacle has resulted in MTN Nigeria’s CEO Michael Ikpoki and the head of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Akinwale Goodluck to resign.
MTN Group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa also tendered his resignation.