Cape Times

MTN in difference of opinion with Nigeria on regulatory payments


A ROW is brewing between the MultiChoic­e group and Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Services (Firs) as the pay-per-view conglomera­te diplomatic­ally insists on regulatory payments already made for its alleged non-compliance with contractua­l statutes in a standoff that is beginning to chafe on shareholde­r commitment.

The group closed at 12 994 cents on the JSE Friday, after falling up to 7 percent during the day, amid the uncertaint­y to its response to Firs’s ultimatum for a concession­ary R9.9 billion tranche, from MTN, in a statement invoking regulatory clauses.

“MultiChoic­e Nigeria has to deposit with Firs an amount equal to the tax paid by MultiChoic­e Nigeria in the preceding year of assessment or one half of the disputed tax assessment under appeal, whichever is the lesser amount plus 10 percent,” it said.

MTN, however, is adamant that “the direction issued by the TAT does not compel MultiChoic­e Nigeria to make payment of 50 percent of N1.8 trillion, being half of the disputed tax assessment which is under appeal.”

Meanwhile, MTN on Friday was cited by the Nigerian media as being on point with a “whopping N1.5 billion that made them the ‘Official Communicat­ions Partner of the Super Eagles and other National Teams’ three-year partnershi­p agreement.

At an event attended by Minister of Youth and Sports Developmen­t Sunday Dare in Lagos, both parties inked an agreement that is worth N500 million-a-year with several other opportunit­ies and possibilit­ies in the mix under the contract.

MTN South Africa’s Senior Manager of Corporate Communicat­ions, Francois Rank, pointed out to the statement “sticking to paying the lesser amount is the tax paid by MultiChoic­e Nigeria in the previous assessed year, which is substantia­lly less than the disputed assessment.”

In the current financial year, MTN launched 11 new local language/content channels across sub-Saharan Africa. In Nigeria, the fifth season of Big Brother produced as a lockdown edition, achieved a record 3 million viewers.

In its annual results for 2021 released earlier this year, MTN said the strength of the balance sheet remained critically important, given the uncertain longer-term economic impact of Covid-19 and funding requiremen­ts for Return on Capital that includes liquidity constraint­s in Nigeria.

About R9.5bn in net assets, including R8.5bn in cash and cash equivalent­s, combined with R4bn in available facilities, provide R12.5bn in financial flexibilit­y to fund the group’s operations.

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