$3.9 Billion Fine: MTN Pays 6%, Withdraws Suit

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Africa’s largest mobile-phone company, MTN Group Ltd., has withdrawn its suit against the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and paid 50 billion naira ($250 million) from the N780 billion fine ($3.9 billion fine) imposed on the company last year.

The South African company confirmed this in a statement on Wednesday.

Recall that the NCC slammed MTN with a N1.04 trillion fine last year, for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers.

After much appeal, the fine was reduced to N780 billion. Unsatisfied with the reduction in the fine, MTN filed a suit against NCC on Dec. 31st 2015.

A Lagos High Court adjourned the case on January 18 to enable the parties to try to settle the case out of court.

MTN, said it would withdraw its court challenge in an effort to reach an amicable settlement and make a “good faith payment” of $250 million toward a possible settlement.

“Pursuant to the ongoing engagement with the Nigerian Authorities‚ MTN Nigeria has today made an agreed without prejudice good faith payment of 50 Billion Naira (USD250 million) to the Federal Government of Nigeria on the basis that this will be applied towards a settlement‚ where one is eventually‚ hopefully arrived at,” the company said on Wednesday.

“In an effort to achieve an amicable settlement‚ MTN has agreed to withdraw the matter from the Federal High Court in Lagos.”
MTN Nigeria’s CEO, Ferdi Moolman, while speaking on the new development, said

“This is a most encouraging development. It demonstrates a willingness and sincerity by both parties to work together towards a positive outcome. We are hopeful at this stage. Along with the authorities, it is clear that we are collectively committed to working towards a solution that is of mutual benefit to all parties. Our industry in Nigeria is an incredibly important example of the remarkable progress in ICT particularly as a much needed catalyst for socio-economic growth and development at this time.”

MTN shares rose 1.3 percent to 129.53 rand ($8.34) on Wednesday. The company’s stock had declined 32% since the fine was first announced in October last year.