By Olanrewaju Oyedeji
In what observers consider to be a fast deal of sorts, telecommunications player, MTN has moved to resolve its lingering impasse with the Nigerian authorities.
The South Africa-originating telecoms company has paid $250m to Nigerian authorities in an effort to help reach an agreement over a $3.9bn fine it faces from the government for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards.
The surprise move from MTN which had earlier displayed a very strong inclination to fight the matter until the end, came alongside a decision to withdraw the case from the High Court in Lagos, as part of an attempt to “achieve an amicable settlement,” MTN said on Wednesday. In a statement, the company added that it hopes the payment will go towards an eventual settlement.
It will be recalled that the Nigerian authorities decision to levy the penalty, which has been cut from an original $5.2bn, had weighed very heavily on MTN’s share price and threatened its profits. The company has engaged Eric Holder, the former attorney general under Barack Obama, to help reach a settlement.
MTN has also restated however that Phuthuma Nhleko, its returnee executive chairman, is leading negotiations with the government.