Nigerian regulator extends MTN’s $94.2m licence

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

Johannesburg - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has approved the renewal of MTN’s digital mobile licence despite the regulator slapping the company with a $5.2bn fine.

MTN on Tuesday said the NCC has granted an extension to the mobile network’s operating spectrum in the 900MHz and 1 800MHz frequency bands along with its digital mobile licence which was issued in 2001.

The licence that was issued in 2001 had an expiry date of February 2016 but that has now been extended to August 31 2021.

“The sum of US$94 225 152.75 is payable as a spectrum fee for the five-year extension period by no later than 31 December 2015 and conditional upon MTN fulfilling all its regulatory obligations,” said MTN in a market update.

“In February 2001, the NCC issued DML’s to three mobile operators. The licenses were bundled with spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands. Amongst other authorisations, MTN also holds a Unified Access License and a 3G Spectrum License through which it provides a full bouquet of digital services to its customers throughout Nigeria,” said the company.

However, the NCC’s extension of MTN’s licence comes after the same regulator this year hit the mobile network with a $5.2bn fine for not disconnecting up to five million unregistered SIM cards.

Subsequently, MTN’s share price has tumbled on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) from a high of R192.45 on October 23 to R158.78 at the close of November 2.

The way that MTN made its announcement about the Nigerian fine last week Monday has also come under the spotlight from the JSE.

The JSE is looking into the timing of the MTN announcement after media reports about the fine circulated earlier in the day on October 26. Meanwhile, the stock exchange said on Friday that it’s also investigating possible insider trading at MTN by looking at trades that were made before the announcement.

In a week of high drama, the JSE also temporarily suspended trade in MTN shares on Monday, November 2 amid an unconfirmed media report in Nigeria that said the mobile network had paid the fine.

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