The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has made a 35-percent reduction to MTN Nigeria’s fine for failure to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards.
MTN Group confirmed the development on Thursday in South Africa, just after the resignation of Michael Ikpoki, MTN Nigeria’s chief executive officer (CEO).
The fine was reduced from N1.04trn ($5.2bn) to N674bn ($3.4bn), MTN confirmed, adding that it had been given a December 31 deadline to pay up.
“The executive chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko, will immediately and urgently re-engage with the Nigerian authorities before responding formally, as it is essential for the company to follow due process to ensure the best outcome,” the company said in a statement.
The decision of the NCC is coming less than 24 hours to President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to South Africa, where it was earlier reported that he would be discussing the fine with President Jacob Zuma.
MTN was fined N1.04tr ($5.2bn) on October 26, seeing its shares experience its highest decline in more than six years.
The company pleaded with the NCC to review the fine by 80 percent, pleading that they be allowed to pay just N208bn of the set amount.
Adebayo Shittu, Nigeria’s minister of communications, had initially said that the country does not want MTN to die, emphasizing that the NCC is only keen on ending impunity.
“MTN has made very great strides. It has virtually or literally opened our eyes to telecommunication benefits. And so, we love MTN because MTN is part and parcel of the Nigerian dream,” he said.
“And, also there are thousands of Nigerians who earn their daily livelihoods. More importantly, I am a subscriber of MTN from day one that MTN came to Nigeria and I don’t want to dispense of it. So, we don’t want MTN to die.
“The issue is now before Mr President. He will take the necessary decision at the appropriate time. I think Nigerians will expect that Mr President would do the best to ensure that the public interest is guaranteed.”
MTN stock opened at $10.02 on Thursday, a far cry from its $12.22 value, when the fine was slammed on it in October.