South African Lawmakers to Question MTN on Nigeria Fine

  • Telecommunications committee plans MTN hearings next year
  • Nigeria renewed MTN's licence while talks over fine continue

South African lawmakers plan to summon MTN Group Ltd. officials to explain why the company was fined $5.2 billion by Nigeria’s industry regulator for failing to disconnect customers with unregistered phone cards.

The fine is “a worrying issue,” Nkhensani Kubayi, chairwoman of Parliament’s telecommunications committee, said by phone from Cape Town on Wednesday. The panel also intends summoning the South African industry regulator to determine whether MTN is compliant with local rules, with hearings likely to take place next year, she said.

Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator has given MTN until Nov. 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 ($1,005) for each unregistered customer. Nigeria is Johannesburg-based MTN’s biggest market with 62 million clients as of September.

While Nigeria’s Communications Commission approved the renewal and extension of MTN’s license for another five years, talks relating to the fine continue. MTN’s shares rose 2.4 percent to 159.20 rand as of 10:51 a.m. on Johannesburg on Wednesday, trimming the stocks losses since the penalty was reported to 16.2 percent.

MTN spokesman Chris Maroleng declined to comment.

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