Nigeria’s largest mobile telecommunications network, MTN, can now heave a sigh of relief after it emerged on Monday that the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has extended the deadline for it to pay a $5.2 billion (N1.04 trillion) fine.
The NCC had slammed the fine on MTN for failing to disconnect 5.1 million subscribers with unregistered SIM cards on its network and gave it until Monday (today), November 16 to pay the stipulated amount or risk further sanctions.
Since news of the fine became public last month, MTN’s stock price on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange came crashing down by more than 35 per cent and resulted in the resignation of its chief executive, Sifiso Dabengwa.
However, in what appears to be a breakthrough in high-level talks between top executives of MTN Group led by its acting CEO, Phuthuma Nhleko and high-ranking officials from the NCC and Presidency, the deadline was pushed back until talks have been concluded.
A Reuters report quoted MTN as saying in a statement on Monday that “Shareholders are advised that the Nigerian authorities have, without prejudice, agreed that the imposed fine will not be payable until the negotiations have been concluded”.