On Monday morning a report in Nigeria’s Leadership newspaper on the fine sparked a sell-off of MTN shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
The report detailed how MTN is facing a one trillion naira fine from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the alleged transgression, making it one of the biggest penalties ever for a telecommunications operator in West Africa.
And, subsequently, MTN in a market update confirmed the report.
“Shareholders are advised that the NCC has imposed a fine equivalent to US$5.2 billion on MTN Nigeria,” said MTN in a statement to shareholders.
“This fine relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million MTN Nigeria subscribers who were disconnected in August and September 2015 and is based on a fine of N200 000 for each unregistered subscriber,” said the company.
MTN further said it is in discussions with the NCC in a bid to resolve the matter.
Meanwhile, MTN’s share price fell sharply by over 8% in trade on Monday in Johannesburg to R171 at 14:40.
Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market with over 60 million subscribers, according to the company’s latest quarterly update.