Everest Amaefule and Ozioma Ubabukoh
The MTN Group on Thursday said that it had received a formal letter from the Nigerian Communications Commission confirming the reduction of the N1.04tn ($5.2bn) fine imposed on its Nigerian subsidiary to N674bn ($3.4bn).
The letter, dated December 2, 2015, was a response to MTN’s initial request to NCC for a reduction in the fine.
According to the NCC response to an earlier plea for leniency by the group, the fine, which relates to the late disconnection of 5.1 million unregistered MTN Nigeria Subscriber Identification Module cards in August and September, must now be paid on or before December 31, 2015.
It also emerged on Thursday that as a consequence of the fine, the Chief Executive Officer of its Nigerian subsidiary, Mr. Michael Ikpoki, and the Head of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Mr. Akinwale Goodluck, stepped down from their positions.
The Chief Operating Officer of MTN Irancell, Ferdi Moolman, and Amina Oyagbola, were appointed to replace Ikpoki and Goodluck respectively.
The Executive Chairman, MTN Group, Phuthuma Nhleko, said in a statement that Ikpoki and Goodluck’s exit was part of a revised structure and strengthened leadership aimed at improving the company’s operational oversight and increase management capacity.
He said, “This will enable MTN to continue to realise its strategy and vision, while also ensuring that we achieve high governance standards and robust risk mitigation.
“As I said in my last communication to you, MTN employees are the key to the success of our organisation and I continue to appreciate your support during this period of transition. Welcome to our new joiners and congratulations to those who are in new positions.”
Nhleko had earlier said that MTN would urgently re-engage with the Nigerian authorities before responding formally to the NCC letter informing it of the cut to the fine and the new deadline for payment, adding, “It is essential for the company to follow due process to ensure the best outcome for the company, its stakeholders and the Nigerian authorities; and accordingly, all factors having a bearing on the situation will be thoroughly and carefully considered before the company arrives at a final decision.”
Nhleko subsequently advised shareholders to continue to exercise caution when dealing in the company’s securities until a further announcement is made.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, had taken over negotiations with MTN officials regarding the fine from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The change of guard had been informed by a conflict of interest as Osinbajo had in his assets declaration disclosed that he had shares in the leading mobile operator.