MTN's chairman to stay on to deal with Nigerian fine

by Reuters 0

MTN Group’s interim executive chairman is to stay on in his role while he continues to try and settle the dispute with Nigeria over a $3.9 billion fine imposed on the South African telecoms company, its spokesman said on Thursday.

Phuthuma Nhleko took temporary charge of Africa’s biggest mobile phone networks operator in November after Sifiso Dabengwa resigned as chief executive officer over the penalty.

“He will stay on until he fulfils his mandate,” Chris Maroleng said.

Nhleko, whose six-month contract expired this week, was hired to resolve the dispute and find a new chief executive for the company he led for nine years before stepping down in 2011.

The Nigerian Communications Commission fined MTN last year for failing to disconnect users of unregistered SIM cards from its network, with the total fine originally set at $5.9 billion on the basis of charging $1,000 for each unregistered card remaining connected.

Nigeria, MTN’s biggest market, has been pushing telecoms firms to verify the identity of subscribers amid worries that unregistered SIM cards were being used for criminal activity in a country still battling with Islamic militant group Boko Haram.