Speaking the Nations Mind

CBN’s $8.1b Demand: MTN Denies Any Wrongdoing

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MTN Group shares plunged as much as 25 percent to a nine year low on Thursday, a day after Nigeria ordered the telecoms group’s Lagos-based business to hand over $8.1 billion that the authorities say was illegally sent abroad.

The demand by Nigeria’s central bank is the latest setback for MTN in Nigeria, the South African group’s most lucrative but increasingly also its most problematic market.

It comes two years after MTN, Africa’s biggest telecoms company, agreed to pay more than $1 billion to end a dispute in Nigeria over unregistered SIM cards.

The latest case underlines the risks of MTN’s strategy to operate in emerging markets, a move that has made it one of post-apartheid South Africa’s biggest commercial success stories, with operations in more than 20 countries.

Nigeria’s central bank said the funds had been illegally moved abroad because the company’s bankers had failed to verify MTN had met all the foreign exchange regulations.

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