- Phone company has lost $4.7 billion in value since Monday
- Penalty is open-ended risk for investors: African Alliance
MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest wireless operator, fell for a third day in Johannesburg to a three-year low after the company announced that it faces a $5.2 billion fine from the Nigerian telecommunications regulator.
The stock declined 2.6 percent to 155.85 rand by the close in Johannesburg, the lowest since October 2012. That values the company at 288 billion rand ($21 billion), about 63 billion rand less than the start of the week. Almost 17 million shares were traded on Wednesday, or more than twice the three-month daily average.
“The problem is it’s an open-ended risk,” Grant Cullens, chief executive officer of African Alliance Asset Management Ltd., which manages $1.2 billion in assets, said by phone from Johannesburg. The fine “could end up being a huge number and while it may seem out of proportion to the share price, it’s that overhang risk that will be dominating sentiment.”
The Nigerian Communications Commission is seeking the penalties because MTN missed a deadline to disconnect 5.1 million subscribers with unregistered SIM cards. The ruling is based on a fine of 200,000 naira ($1,003) for each customer, Johannesburg-based MTN said on Monday. MTN Nigeria is in talks with the NCC to resolve the matter, the company said.