MTN Group Ltd. is in talks with Nigeria’s Central Bank about the early repayment of almost $600 million of debt to reduce exposure to the naira, which has weakened against the rand this year.
“We have already been negotiating with the lenders but the challenge has been getting the central bank to approve that we can accelerate the payment,” Chief Executive Officer Sifiso Dabengwa said in an interview on Wednesday. “It would help a lot in terms of dealing with the currency fluctuations.”
MTN, Africa’s largest wireless carrier with operations in 22 countries, said profit declined 11 percent in the six months through June in part because of weakening African currencies against the South African rand, in which it reports earnings. The Johannesburg-based company said Nigerian sales decreased 9 percent in the period, compared with a 1.1 percent fall on a constant currencies basis.
MTN executives have met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who replaced Goodluck Jonathan following elections earlier this year, Dabengwa said at a presentation to analysts and reporters earlier on Wednesday. “The conversations were positive,” he said, and the company has no pending regulatory issues in Nigeria, its biggest market with 62.8 million subscribers.
MTN shares fell 0.3 percent to 207.83 rand as of 12:19 p.m. in Johannesburg, valuing the company at 384 billion rand.