Former US attorney-general enters MTN Nigeria fine talks

2016-02-03 13:30 - Loni Prinsloo
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MTN. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Johannesburg - MTN Group has hired former US attorney-general Eric Holder to take part in talks with Nigerian regulators about settling a $3.9bn fine, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Holder held preliminary talks with NCC chief executive officer Umaru Danbatta regarding the record penalty, which was imposed on Africa’s largest wireless company for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers, the regulator’s spokesman, Tony Ojobo, said by phone on Wednesday.

The Financial Times earlier reported Holder’s involvement.

“We have consultants working for us across the globe,” MTN spokesperson Chris Maroleng said by phone, declining to comment on Holder.

MTN shares gained 0.4% to R126.14 as of 11:52 in Johannesburg, reducing the decline since the fine was made public on October 26 to 34%. That values the company at R233bn ($14.4 billion).

The penalty was originally set at $5.1bn before an appeal by MTN led to a reduction by 25%. A Lagos court said January 22 that the matter would be adjourned until March 18, allowing the two parties to reach an agreement.

Holder, a partner at Washington DC-based law firm Covington & Burling LLP, advises clients on litigation matters, including those that are international in scope and involve significant regulatory and reputational concerns, according to the company’s website. He was attorney-general from 2009 to 2015.

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