MTN faces mount­ing pres­sure from Nige­ria

Observer on Saturday - - News - AFP

MTN Group MTN [JSE:MTN] is fac­ing mount­ing pres­sure to trans­fer $8.1bn to Nige­ria af­ter the coun­try’s cen­tral bank ar­gued the wire­less car­rier should pay in­ter­est on the dis­puted repa­tri­a­tion of div­i­dends un­til it sur­ren­ders the full amount. The stock dropped the most in a month.

The telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany should pay 15 per cent an­nu­alised in­ter­est un­til the courts rule on the con­flict, the Cen­tral Bank of Nige­ria ar­gued in doc­u­ments filed with the Fed­eral


High Court in La­gos in the past week and seen by Bloomberg News on Thurs­day. MTN shouldn’t be given an in­junc­tion that would let it wait for a rul­ing be­fore trans­fer­ring the amount, the cen­tral bank ar­gued.

MTN fell as much as 11 per cent in Jo­han­nes­burg yes­ter­day, the steep­est de­cline since Septem­ber 4, and was trad­ing 9.3 per cent lower at R79.17 at 9:14am.

The cen­tral bank al­leged in late Au­gust that MTN and four of its banks - Stan­dard Char­tered, Cit­i­group, Stan­bic IBTC and Di­a­mond Bank - il­le­gally repa­tri­ated the money from Nige­ria.

MTN sought an in­junc­tion in early Septem­ber to buy it­self time and fight the claim in its big­gest mar­ket, which wiped as much as 36 per cent off its mar­ket value.

The court fil­ings sug­gest the reg­u­la­tor is not pre­pared to back down over its al­le­ga­tions, de­spite Cen­tral Bank Gov­er­nor God­win Eme­fiele say­ing last week that the dis­pute would be re­solved soon and that "ev­ery­one will be happy".

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