MTN Faces Mounting Pressure From Nigeria on $8bn Claim

MTN Group MTN [JSE:MTN] is facing mounting pressure to transfer $8.1bn to Nigeria after the country’s central bank argued the wireless carrier should pay interest on the disputed repatriation of dividends until it surrenders the full amount. The stock dropped the most in a month.

The telecommunications company should pay 15% annualised interest until the courts rule on the conflict, the Central Bank of Nigeria argued in documents filed with the Federal High Court in Lagos in the past week and seen by Bloomberg News on Thursday. MTN shouldn’t be given an injunction that would let it wait for a ruling before transferring the amount, the central bank argued.

MTN fell as much as 11% in Johannesburg on Friday, the steepest decline since September 4, and was trading 9.3% lower at R79.17 at 9:14am.

The central bank alleged in late August that MTN and four of its banks - Standard Chartered, Citigroup, Stanbic IBTC and Diamond Bank - illegally repatriated the money from Nigeria. MTN sought an injunction in early September to buy itself time and fight the claim in its biggest market, which wiped as much as 36% off its market value.

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