The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has extended the operating licence of MTN Nigeria to 2021 at a cost of $94.2 million, the MTN Group said in a statement issued from its South African headquarters.
Nigeria is by far MTN’s biggest market, with 62 million customers’ among the country’s 170 million people, the company said.
In another development, NCC had in late October fined MTN $5.2 billion for failing to disconnect millions of unregistered cellphone subscribers, sparking speculation about the company’s future in Africa’s largest market.
The $5.2 billion fine is equivalent to at least two average years’ profit for MTN Nigeria and nearly three times the $1.8 billion that it has invested in the West African country, according to the company’s website. Africa’s leading cellphone service provider, MTN paid $285 million for an operating license in Nigeria in 2001.
MTN’s share price dropped sharply and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange halted trade of its shares until the company assured shareholders that it was negotiating the fine with Nigerian authorities. MTN was given up to November 16 to pay the fine. Once trading resumed, shareholders were asked to deal cautiously with the company’s securities, MTN said in its statement.
Launched in 1994 in South Africa, MTN has 233 million subscribers in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, according to the company.
Source business & economywatch