South African mobile phone firm MTN Group said the Nigerian Communications Commission has pushed back a Monday deadline for it to pay a $5.2 billion fine for failing to cut off unregistered SIM cards until talks with authorities have concluded.
The planned fine has sent MTN’s stock price plunging by more than a fifth since it was announced on October 26 and prompted the resignation of its chief executive, Reuters reported.
MTN, which has asked former chief executive, Phuthuma Nhleko, to take charge for up to six months, is seeking to have the fine reduced and has been in discussions with high-ranking officials from the NCC and the Nigerian presidency for the past two weeks.
“Shareholders are advised that the Nigerian authorities have, without prejudice, agreed that the imposed fine will not be payable until the negotiations have been concluded,” Reuters quoted MTN as saying in a statement on Monday.
Nigeria has been pushing operators to verify the identity of their subscribers, concerned that unregistered SIM cards were being used for criminal activity in a country facing an insurgency by the Boko Haram sect.