MTN Nigeria agreed to pay the country’s government NGN330 billion ($1.67 billion) over three years to settle a high-stakes row that has been running for eight months.
The operator originally faced a $5.2 billion fine for failing to register the personal details of 5.1 million subscribers in October last year. It now appears the final settelement will be approximately one third of that sum.
The $250 million “paid in good faith and without prejudice” by the country’s largest operator on 24 February forms part of the $1.7 billion, leaving a balance of $1.4 billion outstanding which will be paid in six installations, ranging from $150 million to $276 million, with the final payment due on 31 May, 2019.
In addition to the monetary settlement, MTN said in a statement that it “subscribes to the voluntary observance of the code of corporate governance for the telecommunications industry and will ensure compulsory compliance when the said code is made mandatory for the telecommunications industry.”
The operator also said it will “take immediate steps” to ensure the listing of its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as soon as possible after the date of execution of the agreement and will “always ensure full compliance with its license terms and conditions”.
MTN Group Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko said “this is the best outcome for the company, its stakeholders, the federal government of Nigeria and the Nigerian people,” adding that the the relationship between all parties involved “has been restored and strengthened”.
Nhleko had agreed to a six-month contract in November following the resignation of CEO Sifiso Dabengwa over the fine, and was due to leave on 9 May, but then stuck around as the operator dealt with the penalty issue and looked for a new CEO.
Back in December, the Nigerian Communication Commission had reduced the fine by about one third to $3.4 billion.
Last month it was reported that discussion between Nigeria and MTN regarding the fine had been suspended until a House of Representatives committee concludes its investigation.