Lagos — On Wednesday, a Nigerian judge adjourned the case to resolve a $2bn tax dispute between MTN Group and Nigeria’s attorney-general until October 29.

The attorney-general has demanded that MTN pay the $2bn in September. The telecoms company has said the tax demand is without merit and the attorney-general has exceeded his powers in making the request.

Lawyers for the government requested the adjournment.

Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market, with 58-million users in 2018 and accounting for a third of the firm’s core profit. But the Nigerian business has faced challenges, ranging from the tax demand to a fine over unregistered SIM cards.

MTN Nigeria, the company’s local unit, listed in Lagos in May in a 2-trillion naira ($6.5bn) flotation and became the second-largest stock on the bourse by market value. 

The listing followed MTN’s agreement with Nigerian regulators to settle most of its long-running disputes. MTN said it would sell more shares to the public and increase local ownership in MTN Nigeria once the tax row was resolved.

MTN agreed in December to make a $53m payment to resolve a separate dispute in Nigeria after the central bank ordered the company and its lenders to bring back to Nigeria $8.1bn it was alleged to have repatriated using improperly issued paperwork between 2007 and 2008.

The settlement ended a four-month row that had hammered MTN’s share price in Johannesburg.