MTN has settled its $8.1bn dispute with the Nigerian cental bank
MTN has settled its $8.1bn dispute with the Nigerian cental bank
Image: BLOOMBERG/NADINE HUTTON

MTN's share price rose as much as 8.8% to R93 on Thursday morning after it issued a statement saying it had settled its $8.1bn dispute with the Nigerian central bank, agreeing to pay about R764m without admitting guilt.

“MTN Nigeria and the Central Bank of Nigeria have agreed that they will resolve the matter on the basis that MTN Nigeria will pay the notional reversal amount without admission of liability,” the cellphone network said in a Sens statement on Thursday morning.

When its dispute with Nigeria's central bank was announced in early September, MTN's share price tumbled by over a third from about R110 to R70.

Image: Iress

MTN said it had provided documents to Nigerian officials which satisfied them that all but a $1bn preference share placement in 2008 had been done with the required approvals.

The preference share placement, however, required “certificates of capital importation” which had received approval-in-principle, but not final regulatory approval from Nigeria's central bank, MTN said.

To settle this dispute, MTN agreed to reverse the transaction at a net cost of about 19.2-billion naira, or about R764m rand. 

“In terms of the resolution agreement, the Central Bank of Nigeria will regularise all the certificates of capital importation issued on the investment by shareholders of MTN Nigeria of circa $402,625,419 without regard to any historical disputes relating to those certificates of capital importation, thereby bringing to a final resolution all incidental disputes arising from this matter,” MTN said.

The statement indicated that commercial banks implicated in the dispute have not been let off the hook yet.

The settlement with Nigeria's central bank has also not ended MTN's tax dispute with the country's attorney general.

“Shareholders are advised that the legal process initiated by MTN Nigeria for injunctive relief restraining the attorney general from taking further action in respect of its orders for back taxes is continuing. The attorney general matter came up for initial mention before the Federal High Court of Nigeria Lagos Judicial Division on November 8, 2018 and has been adjourned to February 7, 2019,” Thursday morning's statement said.

“MTN Nigeria continues to maintain that its tax matters are up to date and no additional payment, as claimed by the attorney general, is due, and consequently no provisions or contingent liabilities are being raised in the accounts of MTN Nigeria for the  attorney general back taxes claim.”

laingr@businesslive.co.za