Telecommunications giant, MTN Nigeria says its subscribers have hit 60.3 million in Nigeria.
The company also said its service revenue increased by 13.4 per cent in the 2019 first quarter, according to results released on Thursday.
Giving remarks on this, Ferdi Moolman, CEO of MTN Nigeria, said, “Our first quarter performance was in line with expectations as service revenue remained resilient with double digit growth on the back of improvements in voice and data revenues.
“We connected a further 2.1 million people to our network, providing them access to worldwide communication services, while additional 1.7 million people are able to access the possibilities that the internet provides.
He further said the Q1 2019 saw “a significant increase in our capital expenditure programme, with focus on LTE services, where we rolled out 1,188 sites across our key focus cities.
In addition, the successful transfer of the 800MHz spectrum from Visafone to MTN Nigeria will further enable improvements to network coverage and service quality.
“We have made significant progress to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) following the conversion of MTN Nigeria to a public company and the successful registration of our ordinary shares with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“We are now engaging with the NSE to complete the listing process.”
He mentioned that the business was on a sustainable growth path with service revenue increasing by 13.4 per cent Year-on-Year (YoY) in line with the company’s medium-term guidance of double-digit growth.
According to him, this was led by a 32.4 per cent increase in data revenue and a 12.7 per cent increase in voice revenue, a general slowdown in economic activities during the elections period and impacted voice revenue growth.
In a bid to fulfil requirements to be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, MTN Nigeria has changed its status from a private company to a public liability company (PLC).
MTN had previously announced that it looks to list on the NSE before July, saying it plans to enter the market by way of listing by introduction.
The telecoms company in a statement on Wednesday said the listing is part of its commitment to localization in the markets in which it operates, adding that it would create a new telecoms asset class for investors and provide a wider group of Nigerians with a chance to participate in the MTN investment opportunity.
Speaking on the announcement, the MTN Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, commented, “Our conversion to a Plc is a major step towards listing by introduction on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in the first half of 2019.
“It is a reaffirmation of our long-term commitment to expanding investment opportunities for Nigerians, in addition to providing everyday services to them. We look forward to continuing our engagement with the SEC and NSE to take forward the listing process.”
A listing on the NSE was one of the conditions reached in the resolution of a N330 billion fine placed on the telco by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for its inability to disconnect improperly registered SIM cards.
For the year ended 2018, the company had announced the addition of 6 million new subscribers and a revenue of N965 billion.
The results, which were announced in March 2019, showed that data revenue grew by 39.3% while internet subscribers grew to 18.7 million.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced the resolution of its dispute with MTN Communications Limited, saying the company will now atone only for the illegal remittances on preference shares issued in 2008.
CBN’s spokesman and director of corporate communications announced the breakthrough in a statement published on the bank’s website on Monday.
The MTN also corroborated the truce in a statement simultaneously issued by MTN in Johannesburg.
According to the terms of settlement, the CBN instructed MTN Nigeria to implement a notional reversal of the 2008 private placement of shares in MTN Nigeria at a net cost of circa N19.2 billion – equivalent to US$52.6m (the notional reversal amount).
“This is on the basis that certain certificates of capital importation (CCIs) utilised in the private placement were not properly issued.
“MTN Nigeria and the CBN have agreed that they will resolve the matter on the basis that MTN Nigeria will pay the notional reversal amount without admission of liability”, MTN said.
“In terms of the resolution agreement, the CBN will regularise all the CCIs issued on the investment by shareholders of MTN Nigeria of circa $402,625,419 without regard to any historical disputes relating to those CCIs, thereby bringing to a final resolution all incidental disputes arising from this matter.
The CBN said four months ago that MTN should return to Nigerian coffers $8.1 billion repatriated between 2007 and 2015, because of capital importation certificate irregularities.
Four banks involved in the repatriation, Standard Bank, Stanbic IBTC Nigeria, Citibank Nigeria and Diamond Bank Plc, were fined by the CBN.
Standard Chartered Bank was fined N2.47 billion, Stanbic IBTC, N1.88 billion, Citibank Nigeria, N1.26 billion and Diamond bank, N250 million.
Here is the statement by CBN:
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in August 2018 directed MTN Communications Limited (MTNN) to reverse repatriations valued at $8.1 billion done on its behalf by four commercial banks between 2007 and 2015 on the basis of Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs)
irregularly issued to MTNN.
Following the keen interest shown by various stakeholders sequel to the regulatory action, the CBN committed to engage further with MTNN with a view to achieving an equitable resolution.
Consequent upon the above, MTNN, led by its Nigerian shareholders, held intensive engagements with the CBN in the course of which it supplied additional material information, not previously offered to the Bank, satisfactorily clarifying its remittances. Having now reviewed
the additional documentation provided by the company, the CBN has concluded that MTNN is no longer required to reverse the historical dividend payments made to MTN Nigeria shareholders.
However, the CBN identified that the proceeds from the preference shares in MTNN’s private placement remittances of 2008 were irregular having been based on CCIs that were issued without the final approval of CBN.
The CBN and MTNN have mutually agreed that the aforementioned transaction be reversed notionally to bring it into full compliance with foreign exchange laws and regulations.
The parties have resolved that execution of the terms of the agreement will lead to amicable disposal of the pending legal suit between the parties and final resolution of the matter.
The CBN assures foreign investors that the integrity of the CCIs issued by authorised dealers remain sacrosanct. Potential investors are encouraged to take advantage of the enormous investment opportunities that abound within Nigeria.
The telecommunications giant still has another issue to resolve: the court suit over the demand by the attorney general for back taxes.
MTN assured its shareholders that it is also moving towards resolution of this problem.
“Shareholders are advised that the legal process initiated by MTN Nigeria for injunctive relief restraining the AGF from taking further action in respect of its orders for back taxes is continuing.
“The AGF matter came up for initial mention before the Federal High Court of Nigeria Lagos Judicial Division on 8 November 2018 and has been adjourned to 7 February 2019. MTN Nigeria continues to maintain that its tax matters are up to date and no additional payment, as claimed by the AGF, is due, and consequently no provisions or contingent liabilities are being raised in the accounts of MTN Nigeria for the AGF back taxes claim”, the company said.
The attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) is demanding from the company the payment of N242 billion and 1.3 billion dollars, for import duties and withholding tax.
* Pays $53 million to settle dispute
* Nigeria is MTN biggest, most lucrative market
* MTN says its tax affairs in Nigeria are up to date (Adds MTN statement, details)
South African telecoms operator MTN Group has agreed to make a $53 million payment to resolve a dispute in Nigeria, it said on Monday, ending a four-month multi-billion dollar dividend repatriation row that has hammered its share price.
Nigeria is MTN's biggest market, accounting for a third of the African telecoms heavyweight's annual core profit, but it has proven problematic for the company in recent years.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had ordered MTN and its lenders to bring back a total of $8.1 billion it alleged the company had illegally repatriated using improperly issued paperwork between 2007 and 2008.
"The CBN upon review of the additional documentation concluded that MTN Nigeria is no longer required to reverse the historical dividend payments made to MTN Nigeria shareholders," MTN said in a statement.
However, the central bank has found that a 2008 private placement remittance worth around $1 billion was based on certificates that did not have final approval.
As such, MTN said it had been instructed by CBN to implement "a notional" reversal of that transaction by making a $52.6 million payment.
"MTN Nigeria and the CBN have agreed that they will resolve the matter on the basis that MTN Nigeria will pay the notional reversal amount without admission of liability," MTN said in a statement.
The CBN confirmed the outline of the agreement with MTN, without mentioning the $53 million payment. The agreement would lead to an "amicable disposal of the pending legal suit between the parties and final resolution of the matter," it said in a statement.
MTN and the CBN had filed a claim and counter-claim in a Nigerian court over the dispute. The legal case has been adjourned several times as lawyers said talks were under way on a settlement.
The settlement comes around two years after MTN agreed to pay a more than $1 billion fine for missing the deadline to cut off unregistered SIM cards.
Shares in MTN have fallen by around 20 percent since the end of August when the CBN asked the company to return the money.
The stock, which closed 2 percent higher on Monday, is also under pressure from a separate dispute with the attorney general of Nigeria (AGF), who has slapped the company with a $2 billion tax bill.
MTN has gone to court seeking to block the attorney general from taking further action regarding the order for back taxes. The matter was adjourned last month until next February.
"MTN Nigeria continues to maintain that its tax matters are up to date and no additional payment, as claimed by the AGF, is due, and consequently no provisions or contingent liabilities are being raised in the accounts of MTN Nigeria for the AGF back taxes claim," the company said.