Heads May Roll As MTN’s N1.04trn Fine Threatens Licence

With the landmark fine of N1.04 trillion ($5.2 billion) imposed on Nigeria’s largest mobile operator, MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for missing the deadline for disconnection of 5.2 million incomplete subscriber lines, there are indications that heads may roll in the company over the matter.

It was gathered that management of MTN Group is peeved with the way and manner its Nigerian operation handled the issue with levity which had cost Africa’s largest mobile operator 19 per cent of its market share and loss of $4.7 billion in three days trading as profit takers offload their shares because of uncertainty surrounding the massive fine.

Already, NCC has given MTN up till November 16 to pay. Sources close to the company said the management of MTN Nigeria may be reshuffled to nip in the bud such regulatory fiasco at the company regarded as MTN’s crown jewel in terms of profitability. Already, there are question marks surrounding the manner the managing director, Mr Mike Ikpoki as well as the head of regulatory affairs at MTN Nigeria, Mr Wale Goodluck managed the situation.

MTN drafted its Ghana operations CEO, Ikpoki to Nigeria in 2013 as they had faced a number of regulatory problems with NCC which attracted dire consequences in the past. Before Ikpoki, MTN Nigeria was headed by Mr Bret Goshen who was later appointed MTN Group’s chief financial officer.

MTN Nigeria has received several knocks from NCC in recent years with fines running into millions of dollars levied on its operation. A top source at the company said “MTN Group decided to send to Nigeria someone who would be more favourably disposed to NCC. Ikpoki was seconded to Nigeria based on his rich grasp of Nigeria’s telecom sector having worked at NCC’s regulator department.”

He joined MTN in 2001 as a Regulatory Advisor after a six-year stint with NCC’s legal division. His knowledge of NCC as a former staff was the yardstick he was picked as he could leverage on that to resolve MTN’s regulatory woes. Ikpoki was appointed CEO of MTN Ghana in April 2011 after successfully running MTN Nigeria’s Sales and Distribution channel as its Executive from 2006.

A seasoned business executive, Ikpoki with academic profile that includes a General Management Programme at Harvard Business School, Sales from INSEAD Business School, Finance and Analytics from Lagos Business School and an LLB degree from Rivers State University of Science and Technology.

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