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Nigeria Gives MTN Deadline to List Shares on Stock Exchange

By Dipo Olowookere

A deadline has been given to leading telecommunications firm, MTN Nigeria, to list its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

In November 2015, MTN Nigeria was fined $5.2 million for failing to disconnect lines of 5.2 million unregistered subscribers on its network as required by law.

According to Section 20(1) of Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations (TSR) 2011, which telecoms firms operating in the country signed to, any erring MNO shall be charged with N200,000 or $1000 per unregistered SIM on their network after the deadline for the registration. Subsequently, the commission demanded the sum of $5.2 billion from MTN Nigeria.

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But the South African owned company negotiated the fine and part of the agreement for a reduction in the fine was that MTN would list its shares on the local stock exchange.

Since last year, there have been reports that this listing, through an Initial Public Offering (IPO), would be carried out “soon.”

It was even reported that the IPO would take place before the end of the second quarter of this year, but it never happened.

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Even the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which gives approval for listing on the stock exchange, said some weeks ago that it was yet to receive an application from MTN concerning the proposed exercise.

Commenting on the issue on Wednesday, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, said that MTN must list on Nigeria’s stock exchange on or before May 2019.

According to him, this was the agreement the company had with the commission over the 2015 fine settlement.

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However, Mr Danbatta, who was speaking in an interactive session with newsmen in his office in Abuja, did not disclosed what would happen if MTN fails to list before the deadline.

Business Post reports that on June 10, 2016, MTN announced through its chief executive officer, Ferdi Moolman, that the Nigerian government had reduced the fine to N330 billion (about $1 billion), which must be paid within a period of three years and in line with the agreement, the last tranche of the bill will be paid on May 31, 2019.

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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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