MTN's Nigeria fine reduced

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MTN is "carefully considering" the R26 billion reduction of a record fine levelled against it in Nigeria.
MTN is "carefully considering" the R26 billion reduction of a record fine levelled against it in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reduced MTN's pending fine in the country to $3.4 billion (R49 billion).

The original $5.2 billion (R75 billion) fine was slapped on MTN in October for failing to disconnect over five million unregistered SIM cards on its network in Africa's biggest economy. The NCC has now cut that fine by around R26 billion and MTN has until 31 December to pay.

MTN says it received a formal letter dated 2 December from the NCC informing the mobile operator that after considering its request for leniency, it had decided to reduce the fine from the original 1.04 trillion naira to 674 billion naira.

MTN says it is "carefully considering the NCC's reply" but executive chairman Phuthuma Nhleko will "immediately and urgently re-engage with the Nigerian authorities" before responding formally.

"It is essential for the company to follow due process to ensure the best outcome for the company, its stakeholders and the Nigerian authorities, and accordingly all factors having a bearing on the situation will be thoroughly and carefully considered before the company arrives at a final decision," MTN confirmed in a statement this morning.

Shareholders have been advised to continue to exercise caution when dealing in the company's securities.

MTN is the largest mobile phone operator in Nigeria, and the West African nation is also MTN's biggest market. The telco had 62.5 million subscribers in Nigeria as of the third quarter this year and the country accounts for about a third of the MTN group's revenue.

Leadership shuffle

MTN this morning also announced MTN Nigeria CEO Michael Ikpoki, and head of regulatory and corporate affairs Akinwale Goodluck have tendered their resignations with immediate effect.

Ferdi Moolman will take over as MTN Nigeria CEO and Goodluck will be replaced by Amina Oyagbola. Moolman was previously COO of MTN Irancell and most recently CFO of MTN Nigeria. Nigerian national Oyagbola also retains the position of MTN Nigeria's head of HR.

The shuffle comes as the group announces the re-implementation of its previous reporting structure and a restructuring of its business into three regions: West and Central Africa (WECA), South and East Africa (SEA), and Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The group says it has "reviewed its operating structure with a view to strengthening operational oversight, leadership, governance and regulatory compliance across its 22 country operations in Africa and the Middle East".

As of 1 December, MTN has a new group COO, Jyoti Desai, who will be based in Johannesburg and will report to the executive chairman. She has 14 years' experience at MTN and previously held the positions of CIO at MTN Nigeria, and was COO of MTN Irancell.

MTN says the search for a group CEO is still under way and remains a priority. This after CEO Sifiso Dabengwa resigned at the beginning of November in the midst of the fine scandal.

"This revised structure and strengthened leadership will improve operational oversight and increase management capacity. This will enable MTN to continue to realise its strategy and vision, while also ensuring we achieve high governance standards and robust risk mitigation," according to Nhleko.

Two regional VP's have also been appointed: VP for WECA is Karl Toriola, with Ismail Jaroudi the VP for MENA. The VP for SEA will be announced soon, while Matthew Odgers has been appointed as the new group executive for M&A.

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