South Africa owned telecommunications firm,MTN shares overturned declines and surged as much as 3.2 per cent on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), trading 1.7 per cent higher at 130.09 rand at the close of business following news on Wednesday, February 24, that the telco had withdrawn its law suit against the Nigerian government challenging the N1.04 trillion imposed on its Nigerian subsidiary.
MTN Communications Nigeria Limited paid N50 billion to the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, as a mark of “good faith” towards reaching an amicable settlement with the Nigerian authorities on the fine.
The company’s shares had declined 32 per cent since the fine, originally set at N1.04 trillion, was made public on October 26, reported Bloomberg.
According to MTN, the decision to withdraw the court case followed the renewed steps it is taking towards a negotiated settlement and to create a conducive atmosphere for further negotiations.
NCC had imposed the N1.04 trillion fine on the telecoms company in October 2015 for contravening the directive on the deactivation of 5.2 million unregistered subscribers on its network.
Subsequently, the fine was reduced by 25 per cent to N780 billion, an amount MTN considered inimical to the survival of the business.
The telecoms giant subsequently sought judicial determination as a means of protecting the local ecosystems valued and supported by MTN’s business.
Although the court advised the parties to the suit to reach an out-of-court settlement, THISDAY gathered that government refused to hold further talks with MTN, asking it to withdraw the case before it could hold further talks on the fine.
MTN Nigeria’s chief executive, Ferdi Moolman, speaking on the issue said: “This is a most encouraging development. It demonstrates a willingness and sincerity by both parties to work together towards a positive outcome.”
He explained that MTN Nigeria paid N50 billion to the federal government as a gesture of good faith and commitment to continue efforts towards an amicable resolution.
He added: “We are hopeful at this stage. Along with the authorities, it is clear that we are collectively committed to working towards a solution that is of mutual benefit to all parties.