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Lawyers, advisers set to pocket more than R1.3 billion of fees from the MTN Nigerian debacle

Lawyers, advisors and other professional services firms involved in reducing MTN’s fine in Nigeria are laughing all the way to the bank. By Gugu Lourie

When the brawl with the Nigerian authorities’ started MTN lined up top lawyers to argue its case in Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria

The South African-based firm at the time hired seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to fight the R59 billion ($3.9 billion) fine imposed on it by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

The lead lawyer was Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who lead the others against the federal government and NCC before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

MTN also hired ex-US Attorney General Eric Holder as part of the team that helped with reducing the fine.

The Fairlands-based mobile phone giant didn’t disclose other professional services it hired to help with the talks to reduce the fine.

The Nigerian debacle has generated R1.32 billion in fees, to be split between lawyers, advisors and other professional services.

MTN informed investors on Friday that in the six months to end-June about R1.3 billion costs were incurred on a range of professional services relating to the negotiations that led to a reduction of R34 billion in the Nigerian regulatory fine to 330 billion naira (US$1,671 billion, using the exchange rate prevailing at the time).

“The board has exercised its judgement and approved the quantum of the professional fees incurred taking into account global benchmarks and the value delivered culminating in the final settlement of the Nigerian fine,” the company said.

After reaching an agreement with the Nigerian authorities, MTN is proceeding with the listing of its Nigerian operation on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator is planning to list the Nigerian business in 2017.

MTN has established a management task team with the responsibility to guide the company towards listing the operation in Nigeria.

MTN Nigeria has appointed Stanbic IBTC Capital, Standard Bank of South Africa and Citigroup Global Markets as its joint transaction advisors and joint global coordinators with Stanbic acting as lead issuing house.

 

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