MTN Has Until Nov. 16 to Pay $5.2 Billion Nigerian Fine

Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator said MTN Group Ltd. has until Nov. 16 to pay a $5.2 billion fine for failing to disconnect customers with unregistered SIM cards.

Nigerian Communications Commission spokesman Reuben Muoka didn’t give any other details about the payment in a text message response to questions late Thursday.

The penalty has caused shares of the Johannesburg-based company, Africa’s biggest wireless operator, to post their biggest four-day plunge since 2008. It may further deter investors in an economy facing sliding oil prices, currency restrictions and the absence of a finance minister since a new government took office in May.

Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market with 62 million customers as of September. The telecommunications industry contributes about 10 percent of Nigeria’s gross domestic product and MTN is the nation’s largest mobile operator with 42 percent market share.

MTN said on Oct. 26 that the penalty relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million MTN Nigeria subscribers in August and September and is based on a charge of 200,000 naira ($1,005) for each unregistered subscriber.

Spokespeople for MTN have declined to comment on the matter.

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