MTN ‘close to deal’ with Nigeria over $3.9bn fine

13 April 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


MTN may be just weeks from settling its dispute with the Nigerian government over a $3.9 billion fine, according to well-informed sources quoted by Nigeria’s newspaper Leadership.

The paper says that the dispute will be ended before MTN executive chairman Phutuma Nhleko finishes his six-month term of office on May 9. He will then return to a non-executive position, says Leadership, but “Nhleko won’t return to a non-executive role before he comes to an agreement with the Nigerian attorney general,” said the newspaper’s source.

Nhleko stepped took the executive role as chairman in November 2015 for a six-month term specifically in order to negotiate an agreement with Nigeria, which imposed the fine – originally set at $5.2 billion – because MTN had not disabled 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards. Nigeria claimed that they were being used by terrorists.

Nhleko replaced Sifiso Dabengwa, who resigned as CEO and group president when the dispute erupted. MTN is planning to appoint a new CEO and has a shortlist of three, including two people who work for MTN, says the Nigerian newspaper.