MTN shares jump amid fresh hopes of settlement in Nigeria

Shares in MTN, the beleaguered mobile operator, continued to make strong progress on Monday morning, amid renewed hope of a settlement deal in Nigeria.

In trade on Monday morning – 10h30 – shares in MTN advanced 2.65% to R126.25, having surged more than 9% on Friday following news that the Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria has given the company until mid March to reach a settlement relating to a multi-billion dollar fine it uncured late last year in the country.

Shares in MTN had dropped to a low of  R109.56, from a 52-week best level of R245, with its current market cap at R227 billion, down from a best of R450 billion.

The group has lost R80 per share over the past year – or 40% of its value.

MTN had earlier this month fended off an attempt by the Nigerian government to freeze its accounts, after the Federal High Court turned down the application.

Nigerian scribe, This Day, reported that the application was aimed at preventing the mobile operator from emptying its accounts in 21 commercial banks in the country.

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) fined MTN ₦1.04-trillion (around R71-billion at the time) in October 2015 for not disconnecting unregistered SIMs on its network.

After negotiations with Nigerian authorities, the fine was reduced by 25% to ₦780-billion.

MTN then opted to take the matter to court in Lagos, thereby missing a 31 December deadline imposed by the Nigerian government.

In a statement on Friday, MTN said that the judge adjourned a hearing to 18 March 2016, “in order to enable the parties to try and settle the matter”.

“If the parties are unable to reach a settlement the matter will then proceed on that date,” it said.

More on MTN

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Nigerian court rejects application to freeze MTN accounts: report

MTN in stand-off over massive fine: report

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MTN Nigeria fine cut by a third

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MTN shares jump amid fresh hopes of settlement in Nigeria