Today, MTN Nigeria appeared before a Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria to formally discontinue its legal action against the Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Minister of Justice (the “AGF”). This follows from the decision of the AGF to hand the matter over to the relevant regulatory authorities.
MTN applied today to have the legal action struck out, which request was granted by the court.
MTN remains committed to meeting its fiscal responsibilities and contributing to the social and economic development of Nigeria in collaboration with all stakeholders .
An MTN delegation represented by Chairman of MTN Group, Mcebisi Jonas; Chairman of MTN Nigeria, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe; MTN Group CEO, Rob Shuter and MTN Nigeria CEO, Ferdi Moolman met with His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria. They also met with key government officials including Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele and AttorneyGeneral and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami.
As part of its ongoing commitment to Nigeria, MTN announced a capital investment programme of $1.6 billion (approximately N580 billion) over the next three years to strengthen and expand its network and operations in the country.
The news was shared during a statement by President Buhari, whereby he reaffirmed that the Federal Government of Nigeria is committed to providing an enabling environment for businesses to succeed. He went on to say that the government is also looking at ways to increase the level of security across critical national infrastructure, noting that it would guarantee seamless service delivery and also facilitate investments throughout the country.
The President expressed that he was pleased with MTN’s support of Nigeria’s digital inclusion programmes and its commitment to growing the telecommunications industry across the region.
Commenting on the news, Chairman of MTN Group Mr Mcebisi Jonas said, “We are steadfast about our investments in Nigeria, particularly over the next three years as we aim to strengthen and expand our network and systems. We are fully aligned with the strategic agenda of the Nigerian government and are committed to strengthening the digital economy of the country,” he continued.
“Financial inclusion and access to funding and digital services all become easier when our continent is powered by connectivity. The benefits of a connected continent are far reaching, making a positive impact across Africa. We cannot achieve this goal on our own, and are working on strengthening relationships with our key partners to extend access to comprehensive and affordable solutions to all,” said Rob Shuter, MTN Group President and CEO.
MTN Group has announced that Gordian Kyomukama has been appointed as the new MTN South Sudan CEO, effective 21 January 2020. Gordian is a seasoned telecoms executive, with close to 30 years of experience in the sector, most of which has been with MTN.
He started in MTN Uganda as part of the Opco’s pioneer team and has also undertaken secondment opportunities in Rwanda, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, in the course of his tenure. Prior to returning to Uganda, he was Chief Technology and Information Officer (CTIO) of MTN Liberia.
Commenting on Gordian’s appointment, MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter said, “I would like to congratulate Gordian on his new role, and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Lily Zondo, who has been holding the fort as acting South Sudan CEO over the past few months. Lily will resume her role as MTN South Sudan Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with immediate effect.”
Changes in Cameroon
MTN Cameroon CEO, Hendrik Kasteel, will be leaving MTN at the end of March, due to personal reasons. He will serve out his notice over the next two months, and a successor will be announced when finalised.
On 4 September 2018, MTN announced that MTN Nigeria Communications PLC (“MTN Nigeria”) was disputing a claim for back taxes of approximately USD2 billion by the Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Minister of Justice (the “AGF”). Subsequent to this, MTN Nigeria commenced legal action in Nigeria against the AGF, which court action was most recently postponed to 30 January 2020.
MTN Nigeria has been informed by means of a letter received by its legal counsel and dated 8 January 2020, that following careful review and due consultation with relevant statutory agencies, the AGF has decided to refer the matter to the relevant authorities, being the Federal Inland Revenue Service (“FIRS”) and Nigeria Customs (“NC”), with a view to them resolving the issues. Accordingly, the AGF has withdrawn its letter of demand for the aforementioned USD2 billion that was issued in August 2018.
MTN Nigeria will consequently follow due court process to withdraw its legal action against the AGF and engage with FIRS and NC on this issue. MTN remains committed to building and maintaining cordial relationships with all regulatory authorities in Nigeria. Commenting on the news, MTN Group CEO, Rob Shuter said “we appreciate this decision of the Attorney General which paves the way to an orderly and amicable resolution of this matter. MTN remains fully committed to meeting our fiscal responsibilities and contributing to the social and economic development of Nigeria and all regions where we operate.”
MTN announced its Asset Realisation Programme (“ARP”) in March 2019 which aims to simplify its portfolio, reduce debt and risk, improve returns and realise proceeds of at least R15 billion over three years.
Following on the proceeds raised from the disposals of its stakes in Amadeus, Travelstart and the ATC loan of R2,1 billion earlier in the year MTN has now concluded two further transactions bringing the total proceeds from its ARP to R14 billion thus far.
Firstly, MTN has concluded an agreement to dispose of its 49% equity holdings in the Ghana and Uganda Tower Company investments to a subsidiary of American Tower Company for $523 million, approximately R7.3 billion. This transaction is expected to close in Q1 2020.
Secondly MTN confirms that MTN Nigeria has completed the redemption of its preference shares with MTN Group receiving, in December 2019, an amount of US$315 million (cR4,4 billion).
Group President and CEO Rob Shuter commented “Following the completion of these transactions, MTN will have realised proceeds of approximately R14 billion within the first 12 months of this program. Realising proceeds from simplifying the group remains a major strategic objective and we expect further progress in this program in 2020.”