PIC 'concerned' by MTN Nigeria fine

MTN. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
MTN. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Johannesburg - South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation (PIC) said it’s concerned that MTN Group didn’t anticipate or take steps to prevent being fined $5.2bn in Nigeria for failing to deregister mobile phone subscribers.

The manager of most South African government employee pension funds said it’s in talks with MTN’s management and “it will take all facts into consideration before deciding on its next steps,” PIC Chief Executive Officer Daniel Matjila said in an e-mailed response to questions late Monday.

PIC is a shareholder in MTN, which is based in Johannesburg.

“We are, however, hopeful that this matter will be addressed soon for the benefit of all interested stakeholders,” Matjila said.

Nigeria’s industry regulator has given MTN until November 16 to pay the fine, which relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million subscribers and is based on a charge of 200 000 naira ($1,004) for each unregistered customer. Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market with 62 million clients as of September.

MTN’s shares have declined about a fifth since news of the penalty was reported a week ago, and are trading near three-year lows. The stock closed 6.1% lower at 148.17 rand on Monday.

The PIC expects “investee companies to adhere to all the legislation of the countries in which they operate,” Matjila said.

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