$5.2bn Fine: NCC Rejects MTN’s Request of 80% Reduction

imageThe Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday insisted on full payment of the N$5.2 billion fine imposed on MTN three weeks ago for regulatory infraction even as negotiations continue, Daily Trust learnt yesterday.
MTN announced yesterday that the Nigerian authorities agreed that the fine wouldn’t be paid until negotiations have been concluded.
“Nigerian authorities have, without prejudice, agreed that the imposed fine will not be payable until the negotiations have been concluded”, the telecoms company said in a statement.
But an NCC official told Daily Trust in Abuja yesterday that NCC may not accede to the MTN request of reduction in the $5.2bn fine by 80 per cent (about $4.16bn).
“We told them there is nothing like that; no 80 per cent reduction but some concessions may be made on when to pay it and how to pay it”, the NCC official who pleaded anonymity said.
An MTN official had told Daily Trust on Sunday that they were closed to resolving the issue. Asked if MTN will pay the fine before the close of work today, the official who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press said “we may resolve the issue soon.” He however declined comment on the purported 80% reduction request.
The fine was imposed on the South African telecoms company by NCC on October 26 for failing to cut off subscribers with unregistered SIM cards. Nigerian telecoms regulator insisted then that the fine must be paid on or before November 16.
A Federal Government official hinted that government may not slam further sanction on the telecoms company. “I don’t think the government will impose further sanction if MTN fails to pay tomorrow. They are asking for more time and it may or may not be granted.
The new Communication Technology Minister Barrister Adebayo Shittu had told Reuters on Friday that Nigeria does not want MTN to close shop as a result of the fine, but that it must obey the regulator’s directive.
“Nobody wants MTN to die. Nobody wants MTN to shut down”, he said.
Barrister Shittu, who was sworn-in Wednesday, also said there was “nothing before me,” adding, “If any new thing would happen, there must be initiative from concerned quarters. It is up to MTN.”
“A judgment has been given, as it were, and the period for enforcement has not yet passed”, the minister added.
The Head of Research of Renaissance Capital (RenCap), Mr. Adesoji Solanke, had shared a note with clients where he said, “MTN is pushing to reduce the fine by 60 per cent to 80 per cent.” A second lender was also quoted to have said that “MTN is considering borrowing from banks as it recently checked what the banks’ lending capacity to it is.”
Since the announcement of the fine, MTN’s shares had lost nearly 25 per cent of their value. The $5.2 billion fine also led to the resignation of the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Group, Mr. Sifiso Dabengwa last week.

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