MTN, which has had little to celebrate so far this year, has been granted a few crucial reprieves over the past two weeks. It’s no exaggeration to say that this year has been a baptism of fire for CEO Rob Shuter — who joined from Vodafone in March last year — and it will certainly be one to forget for investors in Africa’s biggest mobile operator. After MTN managed to put out fires in Benin and Cameroon, US President Donald Trump reinstated sanctions on the company’s third-biggest market, Iran, leading to fears that R3.4bn of MTN’s cash may remain trapped there for years. Then, the body blow: authorities in MTN’s largest market, Nigeria, slapped demands worth a combined $10.1bn on the operator. MTN was told to send $8.1bn worth of dividends back to the West African country and, for good measure, it then handed the dazed company a $2bn tax bill. While some analysts are adamant that the oil-dependent nation is unfairly targeting MTN to bolster its finances ahead of elections next year...

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