MTN seeks to cut $5.2bn Nigerian fine

Africa’s biggest mobile operator MTN, has restarted after earlier being suspended following a huge fine imposed by Nigerian authorities.

Trading in MTN Group was halted in Johannesburg after the stock fell 8%.

Dealings later started again after the company said it was in talks with Nigerian authorities about reducing the record $5.2bn (£2.7bn) fine.

The sum amounts to double MTN’s annual profits last year.

The Nigerian Communications Commission imposed the penalty for failing to cut off unregistered mobile users, giving MTN just two weeks to pay.

The company said on Monday it was in talks with the Nigerian presidency, internal security agency and the communications regulator about the fine.

Chief executive Sifiso Dabengwa, who used to run the company’s Nigerian operations, is understood to have flown to Abuja in a bid to negotiate a lower penalty.

Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market, with 28.5 million subscribers, followed by Iran and South Africa.

The company’s shares had fallen by about 25% since the fine was announced on Monday last week, wiping about 60bn rand (£2.7bn) off its market value, with the company now worth about £13bn.