NCC’s $5.2b fine: MTN shares dip for 2nd day in 15 years

The share price of MTN Group Ltd. fell for a second day after the Nigeria Communication Communication, NCC fined Africa’s biggest wireless
company $5.2 billion, sending the stock to its biggest two-day decline since January 2000.

The shares dropped 5.4 percent to 158 rand as of 2:58 p.m.on Tuesday,
in Johannesburg, the lowest since April 2013, adding to
Monday’s 12 percent plunge.

The securities have tumbled 29
percent this year, compared with an 8 percent gain on the
benchmark FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index. Share volumes
traded in MTN were almost 2.7 times the daily average over the past three months.

MTN will meet with the Nigerian Communications Commission on Wednesday and will challenge the penalty, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because it is private.

The fine relates to the timing of more than 5 million subscribers’
disconnections in August and September, Johannesburg-based MTN said in a statement Monday.

“If they’re faced with a fine like that, there will be intense pressure on the regulator to either bring the fine down or
give some other form of mitigating circumstances,”
Wayne McCurrie, a money manager at Momentum Asset Management, who owns MTN stock, said by phone.

“That fine is totally and utterly out of proportion to whatever
regulation they are contravening, if any.”

The fine illustrates the risk that increased saturation in African mobile markets brings, with stricter regulatory oversight of operators’ conduct, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Ehran Gurses said.

Substantial cuts to mobile
termination rates and opposition to potential mergers in the
industry pose further risks for operators, he said.

Agency report

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