Nigeria is part of our history, MTN replies CBN
MTN CEO, Rob Shuter, said the company is committed to Nigeria even as the continent’s largest wireless carrier considers how to respond to an order to return $8.1bn in repatriated funds.
The relationship between MTN and its biggest market is under renewed strain after last week’s bombshell demand, which has sent the share price down almost 20%.
Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, wielded the big stick on the mobile telecom firm, demanding a refund of about $8.13 billion (about N2.5trillion at N306.15 to $) allegedly repatriated illegally out of Nigeria.
The news came just three years after Nigeria hit the operator with a $5.2bn fine — later reduced to about $1bn — in an entirely separate dispute over SIM-card registration.
That incident also weighed heavily on the share price.
“We have a proud history of being a major partner to the people of Nigeria and notwithstanding our current difficulties are firmly resolved to continue to do so,” Shuter said in an e-mailed response to questions on Monday.
The CEO, a former Vodafone Group executive, was appointed partly in response to the previous Nigerian crisis, which claimed the job of his predecessor.
Since taking over in March 2017, he has started a review of the South African company’s 22 markets across Africa and the Middle East, and agreed the sale of its Cyrus unit. However, with more than a quarter of MTN’s total subscribers, Nigeria cannot be easily abandoned.
The Nigerian demand threatens MTN’s plans for an initial public offering (IPO) and may restrict its ability to pay dividends, depending on how long the dispute drags on.