Despite hefty fine, Nigeria renews MTN cell license

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Nigerian authorities are renewing the license of the MTN telecommunications group as the company faces a multibillion-dollar fine in the West African nation.

South African-based MTN Group said Tuesday that the Nigerian Communications Commission is extending its operating license to 2021 at a cost of $94.2 million. Nigeria is by far MTN's biggest market.

Last week, the commission fined MTN $5.2 billion for failing to disconnect millions of unregistered cellphone subscribers, sparking speculation about the company's future in Nigeria.

MTN's share price has dropped sharply and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange halted trade of its shares on Monday until the company assured shareholders that it was negotiating the fine with Nigerian authorities.

Nigerian newspapers report MTN is asking for more time to pay the fine due Nov. 16.