MTN Group Ltd has described the $5.2 billion fine levied on the telecom giant by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over failure to disconnect customers with unregistered SIM cards as too extreme.
It was gathered that the Africa’s biggest phone company has continue to discuss the penalties with the industry watchdog.
Chineze Gbenga-Oluwatoye, spokeswoman of the MTN Nigeria on Thursday said that NCC has refused to accept recommendations that the fine of N200,000 ($1,005) per SIM was too heavy.
“The Nigerian Communications Commission did not accept recommendations that the fine of 200,000 naira ($1,005) per SIM was too heavy. Recommendations were put forward with respect to the in-commensurable nature of the fine.
“MTN Nigeria contacted the regulator with concerns that a demand to disconnect SIM cards by a certain deadline would cause “severe disruption” for customers and recommended a staggered process to limit the possible impact”, Gbenga-Oluwatoye said.
MTN shares have plunged about 20 per cent this week in Johannesburg, the biggest four-day drop since 2008, valuing the company at about 284 billion rand ($21 billion). The phone operator said on Monday the Nigerian Communications Commission is seeking the penalties because it missed a deadline to disconnect 5.1 million subscribers and is reviewing its senior management in the country, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Moody’s Investors Service lowered it’s rating for MTN to negative from stable following the fine, the company said on Thursday.
“Key concerns raised to the NCC highlighted the difficulty of carefully reviewing the data on 18.6 million records within the one week deadline to ensure identification and disconnection of only affected subscribers,” Gbenga-Oluwatoye said.